Licadho President Selected as Ninth Member of New NEC

The ruling CPP and opposition CNRP have selected Pung Chhiv Kek, a founder and president of local rights group Licadho, to become the ninth “consensus” member of the new bipartisan electoral commission.

“The two parties have agreed to choose her but I do not know any further details on whether or not she accepts this or not,” said senior CPP lawmaker and party spokesman Cheam Yeap on Monday morning.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy also confirmed that the CNRP had approved Ms. Chhiv Kek’s selection as the ninth and final member.

“I will wait for her to officially accept. I think this a matter of one hour, then we will know whether she has accepted or not,” he said at 11:50 a.m. “We need the confirmation before I can make any comment.”

Ms. Chhiv Kek, who was in a meeting, could not be reached to confirm whether she would accept the position.

Am Sam Ath, a senior technical supervisor at Licadho, said that the NGO was presently holding meetings to discuss what to do if Ms. Chhiv Kek moves on.

“The two parties requested her to be the ninth candidate and she is considering this and she may accept it,” said Mr. Sam Ath.

During the 1980s, Ms. Chhiv Kek, who had spent years in exile in France, helped broker talks between Mr. Hun Sen and Prince Norodom Sihanouk that helped end the country’s civil war in 1991.

Mr. Yeap said the CPP was pleased with the choice.

“I think since she’s back in her home country…and started up her rights group organization, she fits this position,” Mr. Yeap said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and Mr. Rainsy last week negotiated an end to the opposition CNRP’s 10-month boycott of its 55 National Assembly seats in exchange for an overhaul of the existing CPP-dominated National Election Committee (NEC).

Under the deal cut between the parties last week, the CPP will select four election commissioners, the CNRP will select four and the final tie-breaking member must be selected by consensus.

The CNRP has long accused the NEC, which was created in January 1998, of being complicit in the CPP’s rigging of elections and claims that it in fact won last year’s national election.

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