CPP to Attend if Overseas Voting Law Goes to National Assembly

A ruling party spokesman said CPP lawmakers would attend a National Assembly vote on enfranchising Cambodians who live abroad if the opposition’s proposal makes it to the parliamentary floor.

However, he recoiled when asked whether the party would vote for or against the proposal, which seeks to let migrants vote at embassies and consulates abroad and at polling stations set up by the National Election Committee along borders with neighboring countries.

“We respect the procedure of the Assembly’s internal regulations,” CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said. “If the Assembly places it in the full plenary session, we must join the meeting.”

The CNRP proposal is currently being assessed by the permanent committee, after which it can be sent to the expert committee for assessment and finally to a vote, he said.

The CNRP believes that the estimated 1.5 million eligible Cambodians living or working abroad are likely to vote its way in next July’s general election. The CPP has called the opposition’s proposal expensive and impractical, while analysts say its lawmakers are unlikely to vote in legislation that would give dissatisfied citizens a political voice.

Asked whether ruling party lawmakers would support the change in voting regulations, however, Mr. Eysan declined to comment, citing “incitement” accusations laid against two Cambodia Daily reporters for asking questions of voters in Ratanakkiri province’s Pate commune in the lead-up to the June commune elections.

“Why do you ask this? That’s why days ago, the commune chief accused you of going to ask people, ‘Which party do you vote for?’” he said. “Don’t do that.”

“The lawmakers will make their decision based on each of their will,” he added.

“Let’s see that day.”

But the amendments can only be passed with CPP lawmakers’ backing, with the CNRP holding 55 Assembly seats and needing 62 votes to be successful, said opposition lawmaker Ky Wandara.

“We are all politicians. We all love our country,” he said. “We want our Khmer people strong for the present and in the future, so we need to implement unity.”

National Assembly spokesman Leng Peng Long could not be reached for comment, but on Tuesday said the Assembly’s permanent committee would decide “soon” whether the proposal received on Monday would move forward.

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