Lawmakers on Thursday approved legislation creating the Constitutional Council, the body charged with ensuring the constitutionality of all laws and settling disputed election results.
Seventy-nine of 86 parliamentarians raised their hands in favor of the draft law, with the rest abstaining from the vote.
“This law is very important and necessary for the whole nation as a step toward the upcoming election,” Justice Minister Chem Snguon said.
Only three members of the nine-strong Council have been appointed. King Norodom Sihanouk already has made his three nominations to the body, but the Supreme Council of Magistracy and the National Assembly have yet to make theirs. Chem Snguon said Thursday he was uncertain how long the process would take.
During debate this week, Chem Snguon and other Assembly members disagreed on whether the Constitutional Council should handle disputes over political party registration with the Interior Ministry. Until now, in the absence of the Council, the courts have resolved such disputes.
The Assembly eventually voted to allow the Council to handle such disputes. Chem Snguon did not like the decision and warned of delays before the election.
“If problems occur and delay the election date, the international community will think the worse of us,” he said, adding that the government would not be responsible for any difficulties.
After the vote, lawmaker Kann Man (Fun) complained that some provisions in the law were unconstitutional.
such as one allowing decisions to be made by a majority vote on the Council.
“We had wanted this to have been a two-thirds majority,” he said.
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