The National Assembly approved the replacement of three members of the National Election Committee yesterday. It also recognized 16 new members of parliament from the ruling CPP.
The three new NEC members were voted in following a plenary session of parliament to replace former CNRP members Kouy Bunroeun, Rong Chhun and Te Manyrong, who chose to step down following their party’s dissolution.
Their replacements were announced as Nuth Sokhom, as vice chairman of the NEC from the Funcinpec party, Dim Sovannarom and Hel Sarath.
The plenary session also approved 16 new lawmakers from the CPP, following the NEC’s reallocation of 11 parliament seats of two political parties who refused them. The other five were filled due to resignations by CPP lawmakers running for Senate seats.
All the new lawmakers took an oath at the Royal Palace to fulfill their duty in parliament. The 55 seats left vacant after the dissolution of the CNRP are now all filled.
Nuth Sokhom, the new vice chairman of the NEC, said after the session that he remained loyal to the Funcinpec party. Mr Sokhom is a former Minister of Health and a senior minister in charge of AIDS Authorities.
“Today I am both proud and excited,” he said. “I will commit all my efforts to fulfil my obligations to this important institution.”
Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of NICFIC, an independent election watchdog, said his organization would monitor the work of the three new NEC members.
“The public lost its trust since the CNRP was dissolved, especially after the seat reallocation, as the people did not vote for those replacements. The same goes for the NEC,” he said.
However, he noted the multi-party composition of the NEC might strengthen the people’s trust in it until next year’s election.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in Cambodia, said he wasn’t surprised by the new NEC appointments, because they had already amended three election laws and laws on political parties in order to redistribute the empty seats in parliament.
National Assembly spokesman Leng Pheng Long dismissed criticism aimed at the new NEC members.
“I don’t understand why people don’t read the laws: they were all supported by their political parties, are all Cambodian nationals, and all have ten years of experience in their field,” he said.
NEC spokesman Hang Puthea could not be reached for comment.