Formula Challenges Persist

Opposition groups and political analysts Monday continued to challenge the legality of a controversial mathematical formula used to calculate National Assem­bly seats approved by the country’s major electoral body in May.

The National Election Com­mittee, meanwhile, defended the formula and cited “prejudged misunderstandings” among political parties and the media.

The problem, opponents said, is that few were made aware of the decision to adopt the formula.

Last Thursday, long-term election observers and party members raised an alarm when the NEC told an election watchdog they were using an incorrect formula to calculate Assembly seats. Unlike the original formula, the second one—when used with unofficial results—gives the CPP a majority in the Assem­bly, though not the two-thirds re­quired to form a government.

“The formula…cannot be decided in secrecy, and shall not be used without a satisfactory explanation to the National Assembly,” a statement from Funcinpec and BLDP lawmakers said.

A Monday statement from the NEC says the formula follows article 118 in the Law on the El­ection of the National Assembly.

But several legal observers said the law is vague. Ul­timately, any legal complaint must go to the CPP-stacked Constitutional Council for final decision.

Opposition party members also attacked the NEC for not making public the decision to change the formula from one that was circulated in an earlier draft. Questions were also raised as to whether a full meeting of the NEC took place when the change was decided. Khmer-language documents showed the formula was changed in May.

“Unless the NEC can produce the minutes of this meeting, there are serious doubts about the legality of this decision,” said Peter Schier, country representative for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

The NEC statement said it “has discussed and made the final approval of this formula, which was signed by [NEC Chairman] Chheng Phon on 29 May, 1998.”

 

 

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