Key Legal Council Stacked in Favor of CPP

The final three members of the Constitutional Council were ap­pointed Thursday, stacking the country’s highest legal appeals body in favor of the CPP.

Members of the Supreme Council of Magistracy named three CPP affiliates as their representatives Thursday. They will join three representatives nominated by the National Assembly, two of whom are CPP lawmakers and a third who is an adviser to Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The King has also named three members.

The influential legal body, which will rule on whether Cam­bodia’s laws comply with the Con­stitution, can now convene, five years after it was conceived.

Opposition lawmakers blasted the appointments Thursday, claiming they were invalid. In a statement BLDP-Son Sann Party member Son Chhay and Funcin­pec parliamentary Ros Hean said the Ma­gistracy met illegally without a proper quorum.

“If this is permitted, Cambodia will move several steps closer to holding an election that will function only to legitimize the rule of the Cambodian People’s Party, which has already undermined the election process at nearly every opportunity,” they said.

Diplomats and analysts said their complaint was not likely to change matters.

The creation of the Con­sti­tutional Council had been de­layed by squabbles over the political composition of the key legal body. Prince Norodom Rana­riddh had insisted on opposition representation on the council until he apparently dropped that requirement two weeks ago in a deal with the CPP leadership.

One Asian diplomat said earlier this week that the prince had only himself to blame for Hun Sen’s party gaining dominance on the council, which will rule on any disputes involving this year’s national elections.

Thursday’s appointees are Chan Sok, the president of the Su­preme Court, Thor Peng Leath, the former governor of the National Bank, and Prak Sok, secretary of state for public func­tions.

Chan Sok, who received the most votes in the election, was elected to a nine-year term. Thor Peng Leath, who CPP insiders have described as being a trusted ally of Hun Sen, will serve six years and Prak Sok three, according to Ly Vouch Leang, undersecretary of state for Justice and a member of the Supreme Council.

The Supreme Council of Mag­istracy also on Thursday elected Dith Munty to replace Chan Sok as the new President of the Supreme Court. Dith Munty, a member of the CPP central committee and the party’s elite permanent committee, was a deputy foreign minister in the communist People’s Republic of Kampuchea.

He also represented Pol Pot and Ieng Sary in the 1979 trial when the two Khmer Rouge leaders were sentenced in absentia to death on charges of genocide.

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