CPP Proposes New Rules in Election Law Talks

The ruling CPP, which has long used election-time generosity as a central campaign strategy, proposed a rule that would ban vote-buying on Friday during ongoing bipartisan talks to write a new election law.

The CPP also introduced a rule that would empower the National Election Committee to dissolve political parties that are found to have manipulated an election, according to Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin, head of the ruling party’s negotiating team. 

“If a political party performs activities of obstruction or revolt on counting or polling, this draft law could allow for the party to be dissolved,” Mr. Chhin told reporters following Friday’s meeting at the National Assembly, adding that the parties had spent only a short time discussing the matter.

“The other important issue is buying votes with material or cash,” according to Mr. Chhin, who said parties found to be doing so could be fined up to 20 million riel, or about $5,000, under the new proposal.

The two parties have now moved through nine chapters of the 12-chapter election law, and both Mr. Chhin and his counterpart, senior CNRP official Kuoy Bunroeun, said the talks should wrap up by the end of this month.

However, in their negotiations over the first 110 out of a total of 140 articles in the law, the parties have been unable to agree on 11 different points, Mr. Bun­roeun said.

“In today’s meeting, we first reviewed the leftover issues on which we have not reached an agreement in order to send to the leaders to decide,” Mr. Bunroeun said.

Those issues include disagreements over whether to regularly adjust the number of seats in the National Assembly, whether to allow soldiers and police to participate in election campaigns, the length of the campaign period and number of days on which public rallies will be permissible, and the amount of airtime parties will receive on state television during campaigns.

“The other issue is about the civil society groups and local associations that shall be independent and neutral in the period of polling, vote counting and the election result announcement,” Mr. Chhin said. “[The CNRP] has not agreed yet.”

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