The number of National Assembly seats will be increased by one to 123 for next year’s national elections, the Council of Ministers decided Friday.
The new seat will be added so that Oddar Meanchey province, created after the 1998 elections, can be represented in parliament, Council of Ministers spokesman Pen Thol said.
Although there are now an estimated 800,000 more eligible voters than there were in 1998, the government decided to increase the assembly by just one seat because of slow economic growth, Pen Thol said.
Oddar Meanchey was carved out of Siem Reap province on paper in 1995, but the government decree creating the new province wasn’t implemented until 1999.
The assembly currently has 122 lawmakers representing Cambodia’s 24 municipalities and provinces proportional to their population. The original assembly, elected in 1993, had 120 seats.
Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers and party officials have said in recent weeks that the assembly should be increased by as many as 17 seats for the 2003 parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for July 27.
A representative is to be elected to fill the new seat in next year’s election.
Funcinpec lawmaker Klok Buddhi said last month that new government figures show that Cambodia’s adult population has increased to the point where more seats are needed.
There were an estimated 5.4 million adults in 1998. That number has increased to about 6.2 million.
CPP lawmaker Ek Sam Ol, who chairs the committee on assembly seats, said last month that if the assembly were to increase the number of seats beyond 130, there would not be enough room in the assembly hall for every lawmaker to attend sessions.
Klok Buddhi said there is enough room for up to 20 more seats.