Comfrel Urges NA To Change Debate Rules

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia has called on the National Assembly to allow political parties holding fewer than 10 lawmaker seats to participate in Assembly debates.

In its Assembly monitoring re­port for November, Comfrel de­mands that Parliament amend Article 48 of its internal regulations, which states that lawmakers must form groups of more than 10 people to be allowed to speak in debates.

“The Assembly’s internal regulation…will cause lawmakers from small political parties not to discuss their political views and honor their promises to the voters,” Comfrel said in the report.

“The Assembly’s internal regulation doesn’t allow small parties to have their voices inside the As­sembly, so the Assembly’s internal regulation should be amended to allow political parties that have fewer than 10 seats to establish their own groups,” it added.

The report comes on the heels of complaints by Funcinpec, the No­rodom Ranariddh Party and the Human Rights Party, all of which have fewer than 10 seats, that the regulations are gagging their rights to speak on behalf of the electorate that voted them into office.

CPP National Assembly Pre­sident Heng Samrin denied last week the HRP lawmakers’ request to debate on the draft national budget for 2009, arguing that the HRP had too few seats—it holds three—to be allowed to debate.

Comfrel Executive Director Koul Panha said the internal regulations curtailed the lawmakers’ freedom of expression, and that no party should be forced to team up with another party in order to address the Assembly.

“If they can’t talk, what can they do?” Koul Panha asked.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the regulations were approved by the Assembly, and mirrored rules in Germany’s Parliament. Small parties should work harder to win more seats if they want their own voice at the As­sembly, Cheam Yeap said.

“We didn’t establish the regulations for the CPP’s benefit,” he added.


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