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Ruling Party Wraps Up Two-Day Congress Ahead of Election

U.S. President Barack Obama, left, toasts with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen at the East Asia Summit Dinner during the East Asia Summit at the Diamond Island Convention Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
PHNOM PENH - Members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party have ended a two-day congress, vowing to create a coalition with the small royalist Funcinpec party to contest the opposition in July’s national election.

Some 2,000 party members and supporters met in Phnom Penh, vowing to reinstate Prime Minister Hun Sen should the party win the July 28 election, according to a CPP statement.

The country’s two opposition parties will form one, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, to take on the CPP, which won the 2008 election with 90 of 123 National Assembly seats.

The CPP is facing the ongoing challenges of rural land grabs and urban forced evictions, human rights abuses, corruption and other major issues, as it prepares for the election.

Party registration will be held from April 29 to May 13, with 10 different parties expected to file, according to the National Election Committee. The NEC says it will recruit tens of thousands of observers.

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections will have observers, as well. This includes monitoring the NEC to ensure voting regulations are followed, along with ensuring proper spending of state budgets, said Kuol Panha, head of Comfrel. Some 6,000 observers will take part on Election Day, July 28, he said.

The ruling party has faced ongoing criticism of unfairness in the election process. Critics say the NEC is biased toward the Cambodian People’s Party, a charge the agency denies. Critics also point to the CPP’s domination of public media, as well as the ongoing exile of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, as indicators of an unfair process.