Senate To Extend Its Own Mandate—Again

The Senate has agreed to once again extend its mandate for one year, since no law has yet been established to hold a Senate election, officials said Monday.

Senate Secretary-General Um Sarith said a letter has been drafted seeking King No­ro­dom Si­ha­moni’s approval for the ex­­tension.

The Senate’s mandate, which is supposed to be five years long, was extended by one year in 2004.

In lieu of further extension, its man­date would expire March 25, 2005, and the 61 senators would be dismissed, said Sabu Ba­cha, chair­man of the Senate’s com­mis­sion on public works, transport, post and telecommunications, in­dus­try, energy and commerce.

“We have to extend it. If [the Senate] is not continued, it will be dissolved,” Sabu Bacha said.

Although the Constitution calls for the next term of the Senate to be determined by a “nonuniversal election,” since the Senate was established in 1999, no legislation has been passed to determine how the election would be conducted. Um Sarith, however, said that a draft law is in the works.

Opposition party Senator Kong Koam said he ab­stained from  voting on the is­sue, saying it violates the Con­­sti­­tu­tion.

Unable to block legislation, the Se­nate is widely criticized for do­ing little work. In­ter­viewed last year, some senators acknowledged they had made few accomplishments since the Senate’s creation.


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