The opposition CNRP has called for the prompt replacement of the secretary-general of the National Election Committee (NEC), Tep Nytha, who has remained in his position despite an overhaul of the body in April.
Following months of negotiations, lawmakers from the CNRP and ruling CPP passed a new NEC law and a revised election law in March, paving the way for the formation of a new election commission, which was approved by the National Assembly on April 9.
The new bipartisan NEC—composed of four commissioners appointed by each party and a ninth, neutral member—will organize the 2017 commune elections and the 2018 national election.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said Thursday the selection of a new NEC secretary-general, the body’s top administrator, was overdue.
“I would like to appeal to the NEC to replace the old secretary-general as soon as possible in order to respect the will of the people,” said Mr. Sovann, adding that he raised the issue with party members at a meeting earlier this week.
Mr. Sovann said that in order for the new election commission to fully divorce itself from the old NEC, which was accused of skewing elections in favor of the CPP, Mr. Nytha—the body’s chief for more than a decade—had to go.
“I don’t think he is incapable, but he has been in the position for a long time, and while holding this position a lot of irregularities occurred and have led to the political deadlocks of our time,” Mr. Sovann said.
“I do not want to talk personally about anybody, but we would like to ensure that the whole performance of the NEC is independent and neutral,” he added.
Hang Puthea, a longtime election monitor who was appointed as the neutral NEC commissioner and has since taken on the role of the body’s spokesman, said the commission was currently reorganizing its administration.
“The NEC is now in the process of drafting a sub-decree on the Secretariat General,” Mr. Puthea said, explaining that an ad hoc committee has been formed to complete the task.
“This draft will be sent to the NEC for review before sending it to the Ministry of Public Function to make sure our documents are…in accordance with the law.”
Mr. Puthea declined to say precisely when a new secretary-general might be appointed.
“I am not able to give exact date for this issue but it will happen within three months, counting from now on,” he said.
Mr. Nytha said selecting a new secretary-general was up to the NEC members, while also noting that he is well qualified for the job.
“Basically, I don’t want to talk much about this issue since I’m not in the position to choose,” he said.
“Generally, I have the right like other people to apply for job,” he added. “It means that I am capable.”