Opposition Backers Want to Elect Governor

Seam Kosal didn’t vote for the CPP last year, and he certainly didn’t vote for another mandate under a CPP-appointed governor of Phnom Penh.

The 27-year-old motorbike taxi driv­er, a backer of the opposition, shook his head when told Tuesday that Governor Kep Chuktema is expected to re­tain his posting as the capital’s stew­ard. “Not good,” he said.

The Interior Ministry has not announced Kep Chuktema’s re­appointment, but there remains little doubt now that the CPP will retain control of Phnom Penh.

It’s an unpopular move for Sam Rainsy Party supporters in the capital, where the opposition won the majority of the city’s votes in last year’s elections, claiming six National Assembly seats to the CPP’s four and Funcinpec’s two.

“Given the fact that we have the most votes in Phnom Penh, the sensible thing to do is have a gov­er­nor from SRP,” opposition Senator Ung Bun-Ang said.                                    Under the current system of provincial and municipal administration, the Interior Ministry ap­points governors and deputy governors to their postings, regardless of how the populace of a pro­vince votes.

The ministry is hoping to draft a law before 2005 aimed at clarifying the duties of provincial and mu­nicipal authorities, ministry of­ficials said Monday.

It is uncertain whether the law will call for a separate round of elections in the provinces and mu­nicipalities, said Sak Setha, di­rec­tor general of the Interior Min­istry’s general department.

For now, “we have to think about the national results and not the local results,” he said.

Hang Puthea, the executive di­rector of the Neutral and Im­par­tial Committee for Free and Fair Elections, supports elections for governor posts. But, he said, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, given the high costs of elections and a lack of political will.

Neither the CPP nor Fun­cin­pec will allow such an election, pre­­dicted Ung Bun-Ang, who claims that Sam Rainsy’s popularity keeps rising in the capital.

“These people [in the government] are so scared of elections,” he said. If the CPP allowed an elec­tion for Phnom Penh governor, “they would be hanging them­selves.”


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