The full support of the nation’s two top government officials was not enough to persuade the National Assembly Thursday to approve three nominees to the National Auditing Authority.
The three candidates, two of them nominated by Funcinpec and one by the CPP, failed to receive the required two-thirds majority. Only 73 lawmakers voted in favor of naming the candidates to the top positions at the authority, created this year to oversee government finances and possibly combat official corruption.
The vote was the second time the candidates were rejected by the Assembly. In August, Chheang Vun, a former CPP parliamentarian and current ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Chea Pen Chheang, a Funcinpec senator who had previously served as undersecretary of state for finance, and Sam Ramsek, a Funcinpec parliamentarian and deputy chairman of the assembly’s finance and banking commission, had failed to receive two-thirds of the vote.
Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly President Prince Ranariddh had asked their party members to vote as a bloc for the candidates this time around. CPP parliamentarians met at party headquarters Monday to discuss the vote.
Sam Rainsy Party members led the charge against the candidates both in August and Thursday. Opposition party lawmakers claimed the educational qualifications of the Funcinpec candidates were lacking and blasted the close political party affiliations of all three candidates.
“With this vote, a number of lawmakers, not from the opposition party, have used right-thinking and judgment,” said Sam Rainsy, who demanded a Sam Rainsy Party member be nominated to provide “balance” though other opposition lawmakers have instead suggested authority members are picked from civil society
The prime minister promised there would be a new slate of candidates that will “satisfy the parliament.”
“We cannot hold a third vote [on these same candidates],” he said. “We have seen that very strong attention has been paid to the auditing institution and it demands qualified candidates.”
While Prince Ranariddh declared the vote result “unacceptable,” he also added, “It’s a source of national pride that our legislative body fulfilled its obligation appropriately and responsibly.”
He reacted to Sam Rainsy’s demand by observing that “they want independent people, but at the same time they want their own people on the authority.”