Local officials in Kampong Speu province joined a national
association of communes last week, in an effort to bridge governance gaps
between commune and national authorities.
Kampong Speu was the next to last province to join the
National League of Communes/Sangkats, leaving Banteay Meanchey province, which
is scheduled to join next week.
The league is a collection of provincial associations, which
have been formed by commune councils in an effort to improve their roles,
increase their responsibilities and strengthen local democracy, said Say Kosal,
president of the National League.
has 1,621 communes, with 102,266 council members, who are elected every five years.
The councils control commune affairs and were established to decentralize
“The association is the best opportunity to find national
and international partners to provide supportive assistance to solve local
challenges through capacity building and the development of local
institutions,” Say Kosal said.
The provincial associations and the National League are
supported by the UNDP and EC to improve cooperation between commune councils at
provincial and national levels.
“The establishment of the associations is very good, but we
are concerned that the commune councils will use their power to serve the
interests of their own party,” said Thun Saray, president of the rights group