The last three members of the Constitutional Council are expected to be appointed today, establishing the nation’s long-awaited highest legal body, which critics say has been unfairly weighted in favor of the CPP.
King Norodom Sihanouk and the National Assembly have already made appointments to their three respective seats on the Constitutional Council. Members of the Supreme Council of Magistracy are to meet this morning to vote in the final three appointees.
The Constitutional Council will have the power to review laws passed by the National Assembly and to determine whether laws comply with the spirit of the Constitution.
“This is a fundamental role if a state is to be considered a rule of law state,” said one legal observer. “It means the government doesn’t have carte blanche to say this is how the law is. One can object and take it to the council, which issues the only authoritative interpretation.”
Disputed laws could be referred to the body by the King, the president of the National Assembly, one-tenth of all lawmakers or a court where constitutional interpretation was needed.
The establishment of the body is called for in the Constitution.
Critics say the Constitutional Council, the highest appeals body in the country, will be weighted in favor of the CPP.
The seven candidates vying for the three slots controlled by the Supreme Council of Magistracy are all believed to be close to Hun Sen’s party.
And the three National Assembly appointees—Bin Chhin, Tob Sam and Yong Sem—have CPP credentials.
The King has appointed former BLDP chief Son Sann and two former members of the royal government in the 1960s.
The international community has insisted on the Constitutional Council’s formation in time for the election, as it will rule on poll disputes and, if necessary, interpret the outcome of the election.