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.”