Outgoing and incoming Senate members met at a ceremony on Wednesday where medals of accomplishment were presented to the country’s first senatorial appointments, whose mandate is slowly drawing to a close.
Though the newly elected Senate has yet to be officially sworn in at the Royal Palace, the presentation of medals signals the end of the current Senate, which was first appointed in 1999.
Officials said Thursday that the new Senate will be sworn in on March 20, despite competing claims by the ruling CPP and Funcinpec to the position of Senate second vice president.
In a letter dated Sunday, Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh wrote to CPP president and Senate president nominee Chea Sim, stating that agreements between the two parties allowed for royalist candidates to hold both the Senate’s first and second vice president positions.
Chea Sim responded that the CPP also had two candidates earmarked for the posts, which were theirs by virtue of the CPP’s Senate election results.
“According to the protocol of cooperation between our two parties, and their qualifications, ability and experience, in the name of Funcinpec I propose [Prince Sisowath Chivan Monirak and Por Bun Sroeu]…for senatorial posts,” Prince Ranariddh wrote.
Chea Sim replied that he had been proposed by his party to take the Senate’s presidency again and that Tep Ngorn, the CPP’s chief of cabinet, would take the second vice president’s post.
“According to the result of the Senate election on January 22, the CPP has prepared and sent two candidates for president and second vice president of the Senate,” he wrote.
Outgoing Senate Secretary-General Oum Sarith said the president and deputy president will be voted in on the same day as the swearing-in ceremony.
“The two parties are still trying to compromise,” he added.
In January’s election, the CPP won 45 Senate positions, Funcinpec 10 and the opposition two.
Kong Korm, one of two opposition senators, said he was not interested in the presidency posts, adding that the CPP has promised to make him head of the Senate’s commission for education, religion, culture and tourism.
“We are not ambitious,” he said.