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Small Party Leader Laments Slow Reform

Kem Sokha, whose Human Rights Party gained three National Assembly seats in July’s election, becoming a part of the opposition, said Thursday he was disappointed in the slow pace of Cambodian reform and the absence of the checks and balances that make democracies functional.

Fifteen years of reform had failed to bring true democratic reform, he said, as the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, under the rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen, controlled all branches of government.

“There are no checks and balances,” Kem Sokha said, as a guest on “Hello VOA,” leading to the loss of representation for “about half a million voices.”

The CPP won a commanding 90 seats in the 2008 National Assembly election, and it has put party members as the head of each of the body’s nine committees.

Kem Sokha said that a rule of the National Assembly requiring 11 parliamentarians to form in order for one member to address the body was a regression “toward communism, like the ‘80s.”

Democracy require political freedom, economic freedom and social freedom, he said, adding that the system of administration in Cambodia should also change, graduating out of the hands of a single leader, such as Hun Sen.

“It is now just based on one individual, who, when he wants something, they do, and when he does not want to do, they do not do,” he said.

The CPP won their seats through fear, gift-giving, vote-buying, threats and fraud, he said, adding that if a neutral election committee from abroad were to organize the elections, the ruling party would completely lose.

The Human Rights Party is ready to join the main opposition party, of Sam Rainsy, for future elections, he said, denying rumors he would challenge Sam Rainsy for the presidency.