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Senate ponders CNRP carve-up

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Members of the National Assembly study the amendments to the election laws. Photo courtesy of the National Assembly

Amendments to election laws passed by the National Assembly have arrived at the Senate for review, despite controversy over how the CNRP’s parliament and local authority seats could be redistributed if the party is dissolved.

Senate spokesman Mam Bun Neang confirmed the legislative commission was reviewing the election laws before asking the permanent committee for a final decision on the legislation.

“The commission will study the laws within five days and then send their findings to the permanent committee,” he said.

Candlelight Party president and senator Teav Vannol, formerly of the  Sam Rainsy Party, said he was considering whether to attend the Senate session discussing the legislation.

“I do not support those laws,” Mr Vannol said. “I will decide whether to join the session or not after studying the amendments in depth.”

The changes, requested by the ruling CPP, relate to the distribution of party seats in the National Assembly and Senate, as well as provincial, municipal, district and commune councils.

The amendments mean the seats of any party dissolved by the court will be divided between other parties, as set out in the legislation.

CNRP lawmakers yesterday issued a statement condemning the amendments to the four laws by a National Assembly made up of only the CPP.

“CNRP lawmakers consider that the amendments violate the will of the people and seriously violate the constitution,” it said.

The statement also appealed to national institutions and the international community to speak out over the matter.

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

“The ruling CPP amend any law they want,” said CNRP lawmaker Mao Monivann. The issue of a CNRP boycott or the constitution which allows this was not addressed.

The US State Department  released a statement saying it was deeply concerned by the National Assembly’s passage of the amendments. 

“Genuine competition is essential to democracy and to the legitimacy of the 2018 national election,” said US spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

“We urge government officials to consider the serious implications of their recent actions. We renew our call that the leader of the CNRP – Kem Sokha – be released from prison,” she said.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the amendments were in line with the constitution and internal National Assembly rules.

“The decision would have gone through even with the absent lawmakers from the opposition party,” Mr Eysan said.

“No one can say that the National Assembly is a single party.”

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