Parties Disagree Over Adding Assembly Seats Assem

To reflect the increase in Cambodia’s adult population, Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party representatives say the National Assembly should be increased by as many as 17 seats for next year’s parliamentary elections. But the CPP says only one seat should be added.

“The one-seat increase is for Oddar Meanchey, because it is a new province and should be represented,” said Ek Sam Ol, a CPP lawmaker and chair of the committee for assembly seats.

The assembly currently has 122 seats, representing Cambo­ dia’s 24 provinces and municipalities proportional to their population. Oddar Meanchey was carved out of Siem Reap province after the 1998 elections.

Ek Sam Ol had a practical reason for his point of view. “We must remember that our country is poor,” he said. “Right now there are only three empty spaces in the assembly. If we in­creased [the number of seats] to more than 130, where would they sit?”

But new figures from the National Election Committee, the Cambodian Statistical Institute and the Ministry of Interior indicate that the over-18 population has increased to the point where more seats are needed, said Fun­cinpec lawmaker Klok Buddhi, vice chair of the committee.

Klok Buddhi said there should be 136 to 139 seats, based on the statistics. “Other countries do it this way,” he said. “If there are so many more people, how can their representatives talk to them?”

NEC statistics put the adult population at 6.2 million, up from 5.4 million in 1998. Klok Buddhi also said there was enough room in the assembly hall for up to 20 more seats.

Sam Rainsy Party Secretary- General Eng Chhay Eang said there should be 138 or 139 seats and urged the CPP to heed the increase in population.

Assembly President Prince Norodom Rana­riddh did not take a side on the issue, saying it was up to the committee.

The original assembly, elected in 1993, had 120 seats. Two seats were added in 1998.

(Additional reporting by Pin Sisovann)


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