The Cambodian Bar Association’s 10th annual conference remains in doubt as the association’s feuding executive council members were divided on Sunday as to whether an important meeting to prepare for the congress would take place.
Ly Tayseng, Bar Association acting secretary-general, said that invitations were sent Friday to the 18 members of the council seeking their presence at a Dec 5 meeting to plan the congress. The association has been virtually paralyzed in its work due to a long-running dispute over who should occupy the president’s post, and Ly Tayseng said he was unsure whether enough council members would respond to his invitation to meet the necessary quorum on Dec 5.
“Usually members do not respond [to invitations] until the day,” he said.
Council member Ket Khy said that he would not attend the Dec 5 meeting as the council’s three-year mandate expired on Oct 16 and the executive council was no longer a legitimate body.
“The council cannot make any more decisions. It has dissolved, so any decision would be illegal,” Ket Khy said.
Though the mandate has ended, the old council will continue to operate to maintain “work stability” in the bar association, Ly Tayseng said.
As the stated time limit of an executive council was an “internal rule” of the Bar Association and not a national law, it could therefore be extended, Ly Tayseng said.
“The association’s work should not be stalled,” he added.
The bar council has been split since incumbent president Ky Tech challenged the results of a 2005 presidential election, which he lost to lawyer Suon Visal. Though having lost the election, the Appeals Court has twice ruled that Ky Tech remain president. The case is before the Supreme Court for the second time.
Suon Visal said the meeting should not be convened by Ky Tech while the disputed presidency election is still before the Supreme Court, but he was not surprised by move.
“I am very tired of it,” Suon Visal said. “Whatever they do is up to them, but it is illegal,” he added.
Ky Tech declined to comment, referring questions to Ly Tayseng.