Appointments Top Assembly Opening’s Agenda

The CPP and Funcinpec on Tues­day spent long hours meeting separately before they em­bark on the first few days of the 1998-2003 National Assembly, scheduled to open today at 9 am.

The first few days are expected to be busy, with today’s agenda including appointments for the Assembly’s top three officials.

Upcoming votes, including the three appointments and a vote of confidence in the Council of Ministers and a government platform, are expected to be largely symbolic following agreements previously struck by the parties.

One legal expert said Tuesday that the Assembly’s new 12-member agenda-setting permanent committee would demand more bipartisan spirit than the last permanent committee, which fa­vored Funcinpec-aligned parties over the CPP by 7 votes to 5.

“They set the agenda and history bears out that if something gets on the agenda it’s virtually a done deal,” said Ira Dassa, formerly a legislative adviser to the National Assembly. “This time around its going to be interesting because its a six-six split.”

Chan Ven, deputy secretary-general for the National Assem­bly, confirmed Tuesday that the three appointments are on the agenda for today.

Funcinpec’s president, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, is up for a vote for the Assembly’s chairman. Also, two senior members of the CPP—Heng Samrin and Chem Snguon—are up for vote for the Assembly’s first and second vice presidents.

The job of appointing chairmen to the Assembly’s nine commissions also remains and could foretell which party will have sway over the review of major draft laws.

No agreement on the nomination of commission chairmen exists as of yet, although a working group is expected to meet this week to hammer out the details, said CPP spokesman Khieu Kan­harith.

Political analysts and one CPP member said the most important commissions are the legislative, defense and finance commissions, which in the past have reviewed the larger draft laws.

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