Parliament Permanent Committee Holds 1st Meeting

Following the election of parliamentary leadership last month, the National Assembly’s 13-member permanent committee will meet for the first time Thursday to discuss the agenda for an upcoming plenary session of parliament, scheduled for early next month, according to opposition members of the committee.

Composed of seven lawmakers from the CPP and six from the CNRP, the committee will discuss electoral reforms, as outlined in the July 22 deal that ended a yearlong political deadlock, along with a recently passed road law and the appointment of a new member to the Supreme Council of Magistracy, according to opposition lawmaker Ke Sovannaroth, head of the Women’s Affairs and Labor Commission.

But Ms. Sovannaroth said the CNRP would push to have the Assembly place its focus exclusively on implementing the promised overhaul of the electoral system during the next plenary session.

“Generally, the CNRP doesn’t want to discuss other agenda items that are not included in the spirit of the July 22 deal,” she said.

CPP lawmakers on the permanent committee could not be reached for comment.

On August 27, the ruling party blocked the nominations of senior opposition lawmakers Mu Sochua and Yim Sovann, who were expected to become heads of the Women’s Affairs and Labor Commission and the Anti-Corruption Commission, respectively.

CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith, chairman of the Education, Youth, Sport and Religious Affairs Commission, said getting Ms. Sochua and Mr. Sovann into leadership positions in the National Assembly was not a pressing issue for the party.

“This case is not a priority issue for the CNRP,” he said. “We have no plan to raise the subject of [re-nominating] them.”

Mr. Ponhearith said amending the Constitution to enshrine the National Election Committee as an independent body would be at the top of the opposition’s agenda.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha, deputy president of the Assembly, to stop publicly criticizing CPP ministers or risk being voted out of his position.

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