Parties Meet Over Commune Election Law

Officials from the CPP and CNRP met Tuesday at the National Assembly to discuss making changes to the Law on Commune Council Elections before the next poll in February 2017.

Elections for the country’s 1,612 communes were last held in 2012, when the CPP won 72.4 percent of all council seats. The councilors manage the affairs of their communes and vote for the country’s senators and provincial councillors.

Interior Ministry Secretary of State Sak Setha, who led the CPP delegation in Tuesday’s talks, said the commune election law must be altered to reflect changes made to the national election laws this year.

“Some articles in the commune election law refer to the national election law, but now that law has been amended and we need to review some points in the commune council law where it refers back to that law,” he said.

A number of changes were made to the national election laws by the CPP and CNRP, including the creation of a comprehensive standalone law governing the National Election Committee (NEC).

Mr. Setha said the commune council law would only have to be changed slightly. “The changes won’t be too big,” he said. “We won’t spend a long time. Today we were just refreshing the principles and next week we will start discussing the proposals.”

CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang, who led the opposition’s delegation, said the negotiating teams would focus on changes that “involve the voter registration process, and the number of polling stations.”

“Next week, we will start reviewing [the law] chapter by chapter to amend some articles that we think must be amended,” he said, explaining that the new NEC formed this year lacks the authority to do such work.

“[O]nly government can draft a new law and only lawmakers can propose a new law or amend an existing law.”

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