Prime Minister Hun Sen’s proposal to allow dignitaries to serve on the National Election Committee has met with resistance from parliamentarians.
The proposal, which would allow educated and well-known Cambodians to serve in the NEC that would monitor preparations for the scheduled July 2003 national elections, came in the form of an amendment to the government’s draft election law.
Critics of the NEC said it was too large a body and not representative enough during the commune council elections last February. Keo Remy, the Funcinpec parliamentarian who has drafted another proposal that is supported by Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers, said Hun Sen’s amendment would not do enough to take power from the central government.
“If we allow dignitaries, but only allow the Ministry of Interior to select them, we will have the same kind of people serving on the committee,” Keo Remy said.
Additionally, the choice of “dignitaries” is misleading and will not eliminate the problem of having partisans serve on the supposedly independent committee, Keo Remy said. “Can you name one dignitary who is not affiliated with a party?” he asked.
The opposition party joined in condemning the proposed amendment, saying it does not go far enough.
Membership on the committee ought to be expanded to include leading democracy activists, such as Lao Mong Hay, Adhoc President Thun Saray and Center for Social Development President Chea Vannath, a Sam Rainsy Party statement said.
“We will not vote for any NEC leadership candidate if the Ministry of Interior proposes any candidate without consulting political parties and civil society,” Sam Rainsy said.
The new proposal could delay the vital legislation even further, said Funcinpec parliamentarian Monh Saphann, who is also chair of the National Assembly’s Legislation Commission. Nonetheless, parliamentarians will debate each proposal separately in the Assembly, Monh Saphann said.
The government announced the proposed amendment last week amid criticism the ruling CPP was too dominant on the election committee. Some CPP lawmakers have suggested remaking the committee with five “independent personalities” serving on it. The NEC reform bill is scheduled to be discussed July 26 at the Council of Ministers.