Opposition Airs Frustration on NEC Selection

A group of parliamentarians on Saturday lodged a complaint with the Constitutional Council against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s apparent reluctance to appoint any new members to the National Election Committee.

In a joint statement, opposition Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians said Hun Sen’s reluctance was a “dubious interpretation” of law. Sam Rainsy said Sunday he has yet to hear any response from the council, as it likely will not receive the full complaint until today.

In December, his party issued a demand to be included on the committee, after one member resigned his post. The committee is officially in charge of the nation’s electoral processes.

The Sam Rainsy party holds no seats on the committee, which was formed by royal decree to oversee the 1998 national elections and assembled before the Sam Rainsy Party had secured any seats in parliament.

According to the law on elections, the NEC should include “a representative from each political party that has seats at the National Assembly.”

Despite the complaint, one adviser to Hun Sen on Sunday said the law is clear. “Everybody must respect the law,” said adviser Om Yentieng. “Including the new members [of Parliament].”

The prime minister’s reluctance to the appointment of new NEC members came in a letter to King Norodom Sihanouk dated last week. In it, he said no additions should be made to the committee until its receives a new mandate for the 2003 national elections.

However, Sam Rainsy contends the NEC also will oversee this year’s commune elections. Moreover, if Parliament were to dissolve tomorrow, the NEC would oversee its new formation within 60 days.

“It’s not fair that the present composition of the committee would organize the next election,” he said on Sunday.

In recent months, NGOs criticized the makeup of the NEC, suggesting it is too heavily influenced by Hun Sen’s ruling CPP. They proposed the committee be downsized from 11 to five members. While some NEC members have supported the change, few officially have taken action.

Saturday’s complaint to the  Council also called for changes in the government’s draft law to establish a trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders, arguing that Cambodian courts cannot “render a proper justice.”




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