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08PHOMPENH558 CAMBODIA ELECTIONS: LEAD PARTIES GO HEAD-TO-HEAD DURING SECOND FEMALE CANDIDATE DEBATE

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“161326”,”7/9/2008 12:02″,”08PHNOMPENH558″,

“Embassy Phnom Penh”,

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,

“08PHNOMPENH403|08PHNOMPENH522|08PHNOMPENH554|08PHNOMPENH558”,

“VZCZCXRO2769

PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH

DE RUEHPF #0558/01 1911202

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

P 091202Z JUL 08

FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY”,

“UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PHNOM PENH 000558

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND DRL

USAID FOR ASIA BUREAU

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, PREL, KDEM, KWMN, CB

SUBJECT: CAMBODIA ELECTIONS: LEAD PARTIES GO HEAD-TO-HEAD

DURING SECOND FEMALE CANDIDATE DEBATE

 

REF: A. PHNOM PENH 554

B. PHNOM PENH 522

C. PHNOM PENH 403

 

1. (SBU) Summary: A ruling Cambodian People\’s Party (CPP)

candidate and lead opposition party Sam Rainsy Party (SRP)

candidate faced off for the first time this pre-election

season during a video-recorded political debate of female

candidates on July 9. The debate was part of a 22-debate

series in advance of the July 27 elections, and was the

second of two female candidate debates (Ref A). Norodom

Ranariddh Party (NRP) and League for Democracy Party (LDP)

candidates also participated in the July 9 debate. As the

moderator pointed out, the National Democratic Institute

(NDI) used a debate format that could ensure a fair and

impartial setting for dialogue. Listening to and watching

the candidate dialogues, one might not have known that two of

the relatively tame candidates belong to the two lead, rival

parties in hotly contested Phnom Penh. The audience had

segregated itself into CPP and SRP ballcap and t-shirt

donning factions with NRP and LDP supporter pockets in

corners of the room. However, the debate succeeded in

providing a non-threatening, organized forum for the four

candidates to provide information on their party\’s platforms

and plans. The debate is scheduled to be televised on July

10 and July 11. End Summary.

 

CPP and SRP Candidates Face Off

——————————-

 

2. (SBU) Four female political party candidates from the

CPP, SRP, NRP and LDP participated in a second debate on July

9. This was the first time during this pre-election season

that candidates from the CPP and SRP have come to the same

venue to discuss the issues. The Phnom Penh candidates were

civil to one another, to the point that it was difficult to

discern that two of the debaters are members of the leading

rival parties in a hotly contested district, judging from

their demeanor and their mostly tame statements during the

debate. The CPP was represented by Krouch Soman, and the SRP

by Lysrey Vina.

 

Debaters Stick To Party Platforms

———————————

 

3. (SBU) There were few surprises in the debate content and

debaters stuck mostly to their party platforms. For the CPP

candidate, that meant a focus on the CPP\’s governing track

record and achievements such as building roads, schools, and

other infrastructure, and increasing economic development.

The SRP candidate repeated the SRP platform to pass the

anti-corruption law, and to tackle inflation, unemployment

and poverty issues. The NRP candidate stated the party\’s

commitment to the monarchy, and repeatedly pointed out the

monarchy\’s role in bringing peace to Cambodia through the

signing of the Paris peace agreement. The LDP candidate

focused on the party\’s proposal to give power to the

Cambodian people, stressing that citizens should exercise

their rights and freedoms to participate in government.

 

A Scant Few Nail-Biters

———————–

 

4. (SBU) A tense interaction arose during the portion of the

debate when party members are allowed to ask a question of

one other, pre-determined party candidate. The CPP debater

was designated, by a lottery draw before the debate, to ask

the SRP candidate one question, and asked: \”The SRP held 24

seats in the National Assembly during this last mandate; what

has the SRP done to help the Cambodian people besides

inciting them to demonstrate?\” Before the SRP candidate

could reply, the moderator stopped the debate momentarily and

requested that the candidates review the rules and

guidelines, and stated that candidates are not to make

statements that would directly criticize individuals or

parties. However, upon review of the rules and guidelines

for the debate, it was not apparent which rule was broken —

they generally restrict debaters from making personal insults

or attacks towards other candidates or parties. The SRP

member did not appear particularly phased, and responded that

the SRP seeks to pass and then enforce an anti-corruption

law; after passage, the SRP would use increased government

revenues from tax collection to pay for civil servant

salaries and building roads.

 

5. (SBU) Preah Vihear came up during the July 9 debate, as

it had during the July 8 debate. This time, the SRP

candidate lauded the inscription of Preah Vihear as a UNESCO

 

PHNOM PENH 00000558 002 OF 002

 

World Heritage Site, but asked listeners \”not to forget\” that

the land surrounding the temple was not designated as part of

the site, and that the issue of the land surrounding the

temple has not been solved. She stated that Cambodia might

give up a little bit of its land one day, then a little bit

more the next day. She also stated that land is lost through

economic land concessions. There were guffaws from the

audience at the comments.

 

Noisy Audience

————–

 

6. (SBU) The moderator interrupted the debates a second time

after the SRP debater pointed out that the audience was

unruly during statements of the LDP candidate. The moderator

asked that there be order among audience members. Emboff

observed that the crowd was mostly quiet during the CPP

candidate\’s statements, but that laughing and talking among

some audience members during the statements of the other

three candidates made it difficult to hear the debate at

times. The noise seemed to be coming from the CPP-wear clad

portion of the crowd.

 

Comment

——-

 

7. (SBU) As we tick off debate number two of twenty-two, we

can say that the debates are going as they were intended: in

a fair, neutral fashion in a generally positive atmosphere.

The noise level of the crowd during the second debate could

have been controlled by the NDI-chosen moderator who mostly

seemed unconcerned with the immature laughter and chatter,

and was obviously not the fault of the debaters themselves.

Emboff sat near two CPP supporters and overheard one ask the

other whether he would be able to ask a question during the

debate. The other CPP supporter told him no, that the

questions had been decided in advance, and all that he had to

do was cheer. While he may have been there just to cheer on

his party candidate, the debate succeeded in giving him a

chance to hear the platforms of a number of candidates to

which he might not have been exposed before.

MUSSOMELI

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Written by thaicables

July 16, 2011 at 6:21 am

Posted in Cambodia, Unclassified

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