Remarks on the Present Situation in the Kingdom of Cambodia

By Son Soubert

Our revered late King Father used to say that Cambodia is a Kafkaesque country, in the sense that legality is upside down, if we want to refer to “The Trial,” written by the philosopher of the absurd, Franz Kafka. The present deadlock situation is another example of this case.

The vote-rigging and fraud which have become a habit with the National Election Committee (NEC) since 1998, were again an occasion of protests from the people and the opposition parties, including Funcinpec, requesting a verification of the votes and the change in the composition of the NEC, which failed to meet the legitimate demand from the political parties and the neutral NGOs regarding the defective electoral list showing more than 1 million missing voters even 3 months before the elections. The results of the elections were therefore contested, and the Constitutional Council also failed to meet the legitimate de­mands of the opposition party for the recounting of the votes in some provinces, ar­guing lack of time, therefore violating the main stipulation of the Con­stitution dealing with human rights and the rights of the citizen.

Upon his arrival from Beijing on September 11, His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni convened a meeting of the two contending political parties at the Palace, in order to in­vite both parties to sort out the problems and attend the Opening Ceremony of the National Assembly, scheduled after the regular 60 days following the elections. As a Constitutional Monarch the King abode by the Constitution and the existing law…. The King, at the scheduled date, went to open the National Assembly, despite the demonstrations from the Cambodian people and the Buddhist monks urging him not to go before all the pending problems were solved. The King has simply fulfilled His role as a Con­stitutional Monarch.

On the other hand, the Con­sti­tu­tion stipulates and was confirmed by the Constitutional Council some years ago, that the Na­tional Assembly is a National Assembly only when they are at least 120 members. Since the newly elected members of the CNRP (at least 55) did not attend, the National Assembly was not valid. His Majesty the King had proceeded to an Opening of a virtual National Assembly, which is not ful­ly a National Assembly in its full right. Whatsoever resulted from the procedure adopted by the virtual National Assem­bly, such as its own Bureau, the ap­proval of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet remained virtual.

We are facing a case of dangerous jurisprudence. The government of the Kingdom of Cambodia being virtual like the National Assembly’s acts, the Royal Decree appointing the Prime Minister and the Cabinet is logically also virtual.

This legal situation being virtual, any recognition from foreign countries is also virtual. The legitimacy of a government comes only when the Constitution and the laws are fully respected. The Cambodian parties cannot resort to recognition by foreign governments which do not care about our internal problem and interests, to establish their legitimacy.

We, the Cambodian people, should talk out this situation of blockage: not looking anymore to who is right or who is wrong, but what is right for us to do. The CPP, a virtual ruling party, and the contending CNRP should sit down and sort out the problem in the best interests of everyone, in the higher interest of the Kingdom of Cambodia and its people whose rights we all should respect. By doing so, all the Cambodian parties would offer a regal present as a token of respect to the King, when we have just celebrated the 9th anniversary of his accession to the throne, and shows to the outside world that the Cambodian parties care for the best in­terests of their country and people. The King as chief of state must be re­spected, since he is symbol of the sovereignty of the nation and the people. He is above any political party and contingent situation.

Son Soubert is privy councilor to His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni.

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