F’pec and SRP Raise Concerns Over Constitutional Amendments

Funcinpec joined the SRP Mon­day in expressing concern about today’s scheduled debate at the National Assembly on two constitutional amendments in conjunction with the draft organic law, which would create new legislative bodies at the provincial, municipal and district levels.

Prime Minister Hun Sen an­nounc­ed in December his support for the draft organic law, which would involve a vote of commune councilors to elect officials to the new legislative posts. Hun Sen also said that before the organic law could be implemented, the country’s boundaries would have to be reorganized to reflect changing demographics, necessitating the constitutional amendments.

Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay said Monday that popular elections should be held to choose the officials for the new positions.

“We want elections for the municipal governors, like other countries. There must be universal elections,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said.

SRP President Sam Rainsy said that a full discussion of the As­sembly should have taken place before today’s debate on the constitutional amendments.

“In order to amend any constitutional article of the Kingdom of Cambodia, there must be an advanced discussion between the political parties,” Sam Rainsy wrote in a letter to CPP President Chea Sim dated Saturday.

“I request that Samdech Presi­dent of the CPP considers enabling a discussion between the parties in the National Assembly about the intention of the draft amendments to articles 145 and 146,” he wrote, according to a copy of the letter received Monday.

The constitutional amendments change how the country is geographically divided, notably adding the new administrative division of “city.” Currently, urban areas that may be colloquially regarded as “cities” are not legally recognized as such; Phnom Penh, for example, is technically a municipality. Last week, Interior Minister Sar Kheng announced that the border town of Poipet would be renamed “Poipet City” in 2009 and run like a municipality with a degree of autonomy from surrounding Banteay Mean­chey province.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said that the draft legislation cannot be sent back for revision.

“The Constitution does not state that there must be discussion between the three political parties on a draft law,” he said.

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