The ruling Cambodian People’s Party has tabled urgent draft amendments to the law on elections for a parliament that could see the opposition’s 55 seats handed out to other parties if it is dissolved.
The CNRP is currently the subject of a Supreme Court case that could see it dissolved if a complaint filed by the CPP is upheld.
Under the current rules, the CNRP’s existing seats would be granted to the ruling party, which would see the CPP controlling all of the National Assembly’s 123 seats and potentially leaving it open to criticism.
If the new proposed formula for allocating seats was implemented, the royalist Funcinpec party would gain more than 40 of the CNRP’s seats, with the remainder shared between the League for Democracy Party, the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party, the Cambodian Nationality Party and Khmer Economic Development Party.
The CNRP won about 44 percent of the popular vote in the 2013 election, compared to only about 3 percent for Funcinpec.
Speaking to workers at an industrial park in the capital, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the new distribution of seats proved Cambodia was “a heaven for political parties and heaven for NGOs as well.”
The proposed changes were first reported by Eng Chhai Eang, a CNRP vice president currently residing in the United States, and later confirmed by Leng Peng Long, National Assembly spokesman.
The National Assembly was due to meet on Thursday to discuss the proposals, which would also affect the election of senators and local officials, Chhai Eang said.
“The content of the proposed amendments is to separate the seats of the dissolved opposition party lawmakers and assign those to other political parties,” Chhai Eang added.
Peng Long said: “We received the proposed amendment and prepared to include it in the meeting.”
Sok Eysan, CPP spokesman, however, denied the party had tabled the proposed amendments, describing it as “false information”.
Em Sovannara, a political observer, said the move would severely undermine the democratic process.
“The draft does not address what the CNRP supporters and the international community actually wants. I think it is a concern for Cambodia in the future. It will eventually affect economics and politics,” he said.