Assembly Votes for Council Age Requirement

The National Assembly ap­proved a provision Thursday requiring members of the critical Constitutional Council to be at least 45 years old and to have a university degree and 15 years of work experience.

While 77 lawmakers voted in favor of the article, eight ab­stained, including outspoken parliamentarian Thach Reng (BLDP-Son Sann).

Thach Reng, who wanted to scrap the age requirement, ar­gued the provision is unconstitutional “because it reduces the freedom of young intellectuals.” He noted that Second Prime Minister Hun Sen was a foreign minister in his 20s and a prime minister by the age of 35.

But Minister of Justice Chem Snguon (CPP) said that such a critical institution has to be composed of highly-educated people with a wealth of life experience. The nine-member panel will be charged with ruling on election disputes and the constitutionality of laws.

“We need persons of at least 45 years old and a great deal of working experience in order to address such large issues,” Chem Snguon said. The justice minister also said such “mature” members are likely to boost the credibility of the institution within national and international circles.

Under the article passed Thurs­day, the members also must have a background in politics, economics and diplomacy. Their appointment is to be decided by simple majority of the Assembly.

The Assembly will continue Monday. Today’s session is canceled so lawmakers can attend the funeral of Hun Sen’s mother.

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