Majority Should Rule Assembly, Officials Say

Election winners should re­quire a simple majority of seats to form a government instead of the current two-thirds stated in the Constitution, government officials and a top election monitor said.

Such an amendment would have prevented the post-election dead­lock in 1998 and the current stale­mate that has stalled the gov­ern­ment for more than six months, said Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections.

He and Funcinpec members Prince Norodom Sirivudh and Kas­sie Neou endorsed the idea at a forum Thursday to review last year’s parliamentary elections.

The two-day forum at Hotel Le Roy­al yielded several complaints about the composition and functioning of the National Election Committee, whose members have CPP ties, as well as the legal two-thirds requirement that has forced the CPP to court a coalition partner.

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s par­ty won 73 of the 123 parliamentary seats but not enough to form a government alone.

Other suggestions to improve the elections included limiting the prime minister to two terms and allowing voters to cast their ballots in communes other than their own to sidestep intimidation by local authorities.

The talks highlighted the gulf between the Alliance of Democ­rats and the CPP, which repeatedly accused the former of ignoring the law and indicated it had abandoned tripartite negotiations.

Nin Saphon, a CPP parliamen­tar­­ian, said the Alliance had overstepped what had been agreed up­on in a Nov 5 meeting among the three parties and King Noro­dom Sihanouk, in which they ag­reed to form a tripartite government.

“They did not respect that meeting…. They have given us con­ditions we can not accept,” Nin Saphon said at the forum.

Prince Sirivudh, also speaking at the forum, said Funcinpec would not abandon the opposition and their joint approach to negotiate for a tripartite government.

“If the CPP changes from tripartite to bilateral [negotiations], we cannot accept that,” he said.

 

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