Joint-Party Electoral Reform Commission to Hold First Meeting

The electoral reform commission created during a meeting between senior members of the ruling CPP and opposition CNRP last month will hold its first meeting this morning to forge an agenda, members of the new commission said Sunday.

The new body is tasked with preparing electoral reforms in time for a future election, which leaders of the CNRP have said they hope will be held before the current parliamentary term expires in 2018 to correct what they say was a fraud-marred election in July.

Cheam Yeap, who serves as a senior lawmaker for the CPP and will be at this morning’s meeting, explained that it would be the prerogative of the CNRP—as the party that claims there are problems with the electoral system—to suggest what will be placed on the agenda.

“The most important thing is not to get off the topic that both parties have chosen—that is, election reform,” Mr. Yeap said, referring to past negotiating points of the CNRP such as an independent investigation into last year’s election or the calling of a new election.

Both parties have said such issues will not be discussed at meetings of the new commission, and will require a special meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

“We will wait and see [what is discussed] tomorrow,” said Mr. Yeap, who will be joined by five other CPP members at this morning’s meeting.

Son Chhay, the CNRP’s chief whip, said that he and the other five members of the CNRP’s delegation to the commission will suggest it focus on studying the failings of the last election to identify areas for reform.

“Setting up how the joint committee will operate will be the main thing, and then we will go about studying the last election,” he said.

“It is important that we will see how genuine the CPP is. If they’ve committed themselves to reform, then we will discuss the main issues that have been raised by NGOs,” Mr. Chhay explained.

Separately, a coalition of electoral-reform NGOs known as “The Situation Room” released a statement Saturday calling for the new commission to agree to rereform the National Election Committee, which is dominated by CPP members; to reform of the national voter list, which has been plagued by missing and duplicate names; and to call a new national election by the end of 2015, the mid-point of the current electoral term.

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