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Ruling Party Wants Change, But Old Habits Die Hard

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's son, Hun Many, second right, walks on the red carpet during a celebration marking the anniversary of the 1979 downfall of the Khmer Rouge regime at Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party, in Phnom Penh, file photo.

Following a three-day congress over the weekend, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party voted to greatly expand its Central Committee.

The expansion was in part to allow more young leaders into party decision-making, and it was in part a response to the party’s slide in popularity at the 2013 elections.

The committee grew from 262 members to 568. But political observers say it is unclear whether this signaled an actual desire to reform.

Among those admitted to the Central Committee were three sons of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Absent from the CPP’s congress was Chea Sim, the nominal head of ruling party.

Associates of Chea Sim, 83, say he was taken to a hospital in Vietnam two weeks ago, where he remains, recovering from an unknown illness.

Chea Sim is a member of a generation of politicians and leaders who are growing old.

(Prime Minister Hun Sen, who recently marked 30 years in power, is relatively young, at 63.)

A bodyguard for Chea Sim said he is expected to return home in coming days.