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Assembly passes amendments to election law

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
The Prime Minister signs in for yesterday’s session. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The National Assembly yesterday approved amendments to four election laws that will determine how the CNRP’s seats in parliament and local authorities will be redistributed if the party is dissolved.

A total of 67 lawmakers from the ruling CPP passed proposals to amend the legislation on elections for the National Assembly and Senate, as well as provincial, municipal, district and commune councils.

All 55 lawmakers from the CNRP boycotted the session yesterday, half of whom have fled overseas  after opposition leader Kem Sokha was detained on charges of  attempting to topple the government with help from a foreign power.

CNRP vice president Eng Chhay Eang, who is among the lawmakers living in exile, posted on Facebook to say the amendments to the four laws cannot be implemented “because it opposes the will of the people”.

However, CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the changes to the legislation were in line with the law and a response to the current political situation, since Mr Sokha had “conspired” with foreigners to break up the nation.

“The amendments to the four laws are not intended to destroy any person or political parties,” Mr Yeap said during a debate at the National Assembly.

However, political analyst Meas Ny described the passing of the amendments as a “systematic decision”, adding the Supreme Court was unlikely to challenge the dissolution of the opposition.

It will make voters at a grassroots level concerned about social injustice if the seats of the party they backed are divided like a cake among other people,” Mr Ny said.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng said after the National Assembly session that the government was aware of concerns about the possible dissolution of the CNRP, but the authorities had to maintain national peace.

Assembly members cast their votes for the electoral law changes. National Assembly

“We’ve already considered all these issues,” he said.

“The law changes do not target any person or political party, they just address loopholes that meant there was no guidance of what to do in the case of a party being dissolved.

“It is not persecution. It is about whether those in question have respected the law.”

Mr Kheng declined to comment on whether the ruling CPP would take over the commune seats of the CNRP. “I cannot yet say anything on that issue,” he said.

Defence Minister Tea Banh yesterday addressed the armed forces at the Ministry of Defence and said the dissolution of the CNRP would be good for national security.

Gen Banh added the country’s forces are ready to fight any colour revolution, such as that planned by the opposition for some time.

“We arrested the leader of the party and there is no going back. We are moving forward,” he said.

The Interior Ministry last week filed a request to the Supreme Court to have the CNRP dissolved, following complaints filed against it by the Funcinpec Party and Cambodian Youth Party.

Supreme Court judge Sem Sakola ordered the CNRP to submit a response to the case within 20 days.

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