Marking the 14th anniversary of the promulgation of Cambodia’s Constitution on Monday, Prince Norodom Ranariddh blasted the government for its failure to implement and comply with the Constitution.
“I have observed that many articles in the Constitution are not complied with yet,” the prince wrote in a statement issued Monday, referring specifically to articles related to the monarchy, such as the King’s right to grant amnesty.
“[O]ther articles that are not implemented deal with human rights and freedom of expression,” he added before praising his own role in the creation of the Constitution in 1993.
Muth Channtha, spokesman for the Norodom Ranariddh Party, said the government has not recognized the right of the King to unilaterally grant pardons, nor has it ever held the constitutionally mandated “national congress.”
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith denied Prince Ranariddh’s accusations and said that the government has fully implemented the Constitution.
“Can you tell me which articles the government has not implemented?” he said, adding that the government has fully complied with the King’s rights as they are outlined in the Constitution.
Under the Constitution the prime minister is required to call a national congress every December where citizens would be informed of the state’s activities and in turn offer suggestions to the government and Parliament. The congress has never been called.
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that people have enjoyed some basic rights under the Constitution, but the government continues to abridge citizen’s rights to freedom of expression, with the national congress being a prominent example.
“The rights of freedom of expression through demonstrations [and] the national congress have not been given,” he said.
Khieu Kanharith said that the existence of the National Assembly overrides the need for a national congress. He added that the government doesn’t want to hold the annual congress because there might be a violent confrontation between supporters of competing political parties.
“The government is afraid that during the congress there will be a chaotic situation,” he said. “If we have a congress we do not need to have the National Assembly.”