Gov’t Accepts Request for Law to Ban Monks Voting

The government on Thursday formally accepted a request from Cambodia’s top Buddhist monks to consider drafting a law that would ban the country’s more than 50,000 monks from voting.

At the start of the annual two-day meeting of top monks in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, the leaders of both major Buddhist sects in Cambodia asked the government to draft a law that would make it illegal for monks to cast ballots, endorse a political party or otherwise take part in election activities.

At the end of the meeting Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An, the minister of National Assembly-Senate relations and inspection, agreed to pass the request on for consideration.

“I would like to accept this request and will pass it to the head of the government to inspect and decide,” said Ms. Sam An, who is also a lawmaker for the ruling CPP.

The request from the Buddhist leaders follows a year in which a small but growing number of monks have grown increasingly vocal in their critique of CPP rule, often joining and leading protests against government policies and practices.

The Constitution currently guarantees the right to vote for all Cambodian citizens 18 years old and above.

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