The Constitutional Council has rejected a request from 21 Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers to examine the legality of a controversial addition to the Constitution, which allowed the new government to form in July.
Also known as the “package vote,” the seven-article alteration permitted the National Assembly to vote on parliamentary and Cabinet positions all at once, overriding constitutional protocol that calls for those appointments to be decided in two votes.
The opposition party, human rights groups and King Norodom Sihanouk maligned the measure, which ensured Prime Minister Hun Sen another term at the country’s helm and Funcinpec another four-years as the lesser coalition partner.
In its resolution last Thursday, the Council said that it had “the duty to ensure respect for the Constitution and to interpret it and the laws adopted by the National Assembly and the Senate. So the Constitutional Council does not have the responsibility to review the constitutionality of the additional [C]onstitution.”
Council member Son Soubert, an appointee of King Sihanouk’s, said Sunday that Council had decided that the “package vote” measure, once adopted, was the equivalent of and as inviolable as constitutional law.
It is not in the Council’s mandate to determine the constitutionality of the Constitution, Son Soubert said, adding that nobody has that authority in Cambodia.
The measure was pushed through the Assembly and the Senate in show-of-hands votes, a procedural deviation that the Sam Rainsy Party criticized as CPP-Funcinpec insurance that their parties’ lines were toed.
But Son Chhay, who authored the request, said Sunday he was pleased with the Council’s reply. “This clearly explains that this…is an outlaw government,” he said.