Vote Set for Election Committee Amendment

The National Assembly will vote on a proposal to make the National Election Committee (NEC) a Constitutional body in early October, opposition lawmakers said on Thursday, honoring part of a deal the ruling CPP struck with the CNRP in July to get the opposition to end its boycott of parliament.

The CNRP had accused the CPP of cheating its way to victory in last year’s national election and put much of the blame on an NEC stacked with CPP loyalists. In a deal that got the opposition to call off its boycott of parliament, the CPP agreed in July to enshrine the NEC in the Constitution, a move the CNRP hopes will help make the committee more independent.

After meeting on Thursday, the Assembly’s 13-member permanent committee agreed to put the constitutional amendment on the Assembly’s agenda for early October, according to CNRP lawmaker and permanent committee member Eng Chhay Eang.

The amendment will require both changing some language in Article 76 of the Constitution and adding a new 15th chapter. Approval will require votes from two-thirds of the 123-seat Assembly.

“The permanent committee decided to put the matter of amending Article 76 of the Constitution on the upcoming plenary session agenda for early October,” Mr. Chhay Eang said. “We also talked about [discussing] Chapter 15…[at] the National Assembly’s next session.”

An exact date for the session has not yet been announced.

CNRP lawmaker Yem Ponhearith, who also sits on the permanent committee, said the group discussed plans to have the National Assembly begin seeking candidates for one of 11 new members of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, whom the Assembly will eventually vote on.

He said the CNRP sought to delay the search for a candidate because it first wanted to discuss amendments to the law governing the Supreme Council, but was outvoted by the permanent committee’s CPP members.

Mr. Chhay Eang said the permanent committee did agree, however, to delay a vote on a draft traffic law so that one of the Assembly’s expert bodies could review it first. The Council of Ministers approved the traffic law, aimed at improving the safety of Cambodia’s notoriously dangerous roads, last month.

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