Leaders and supporters of the opposition Human Rights Party met in Philadelphia on Friday, marking the fourth anniversary of the party and planning for upcoming commune elections in 2012.
In an interview with VOA Khmer after the meetings, party president Kem Sokha said the party will campaign next year on providing more public services to local communities and mitigating discrimination against people of different political beliefs. HRP officials will also seek to eliminate bribes for public services, he said.
“We will create effective and efficient mechanisms, by providing services across the country to meet the needs and demands of local people,” he said. “We will install computers and generators in all the communes led by [the Human Rights Party] to help speed up the processing of people’s documents.”
More broadly speaking, Kem Sokha said Cambodia faces three main threats, what he called “foreign invasion,” dictatorship and poverty.
In national elections, scheduled for 2013, Kem Sokha said the party decided to focus on national integrity and reducing illegal immigration. Cambodia’s current immigration law goes unheeded, due to “foreign influences” that his party is not influenced by, he said.
The party would also like to amend the constitution and set a two-term limit on the office of prime minister. The Human Rights Party already practices such a term limit, he said.
Meanwhile, party lawmakers will also seek better separation of the branches of government while also promoting the agricultural sector, he said.
Education for the young is another priority, he said.
“We will set up a loan system for those who want to go to university and make technical schools available for those who do not want to go to university, so that they have skills to work,” he said. “These are only possible if corruption is eliminated. HRP has a strategy to eliminate corruption from the top. We aren’t going to go the way the party in power has. Asset declaration must be made publicly, not in a closed envelope.”
The Human Rights Party currently holds three seats in the National Assembly, well behind the leading opposition Sam Rainsy Party, which has 26. However, party leader Sam Rainsy is facing a prison sentence at home and remains in self exile abroad, which observers note could present organizational and political difficulties for the party.
Talk of alliance between the two opposition parties has surfaced occasionally since the last election, in 2008, but neither side has been able to fully agree with the other.
Kem Sokha said that “even if we cannot merge” the parties should not “color one another.”
“I appeal to all people not to be hopeless,” he said. “We are still able to work together, once we have set a democratic system. The HRP has been working on this and has implemented it. So you can join us.”