Son Sann, a member of the Constitutional Council, has written to King Norodom Sihanouk to decry the country’s highest appeals body as illegal.
“How can an illegal Constitutional Council rule on the legality of the upcoming elections?” he asked the monarch in a letter released Monday.
In the letter, Son Sann claimed the methods used to select three members were flawed and violated the Constitution. The letter was written Wednesday, the day before the final three members were appointed to the nine-member body.
The King over the weekend issued decrees formally accepting the new members of the Council.
Son Sann, one of three royal appointees to the legal body, used extensive legal arguments to claim the three representatives of the Supreme Council of Magistracy would be illegally appointed.
The Supreme Council named their three representatives at a meeting Thursday.
The legality of that meeting was in doubt, Son Sann claims, because it was called by Sok An, co-minister of the Council of Ministers, acting as Justice Minister in the absence of Chem Snguon, who was sick.
“How was Sok An able to call this meeting? Was he formally authorized to do so? If so, by which legal authority?” Son Sann wrote, adding that Sok An had signed a document calling for candidates for the three seats. “Nowhere in the Constitution, and less so in the law, does it state that the procedure for [SCM] candidates should be organized by the Ministry of Justice.”
Son Sann wrote that Sok An should not have been involved. “This violates the fundamental principle of the Constitution, that of the separation of [judicial and executive] powers. Sok An, a member of the executive, has therefore openly violated this principle.”
The appointment of Sok An as acting justice minister was in line with normal government procedure, the government spokesman’s office said last week. “Such an appointment has been a routine appointment of the Royal Government since it was formed five years ago,” the office said.
Furthermore, the government says the involvement of the acting Minister of Justice in organizing the meeting was within the law.
Son Sann also claimed the vote at the Supreme Council of Magistracy would be void because four of the nine members should not have taken part. Two were candidates in the election, one was not a judge as required by the law, and one post is vacant, he wrote. Seven members need to be present for the vote to be valid.