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Cambodia to Study Amending Constitution Amid Political Crisis


Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, second from right, talks with Sar Kheng, right, deputy prime minister and minister of Ministry of Interior, as they wait to attend the Independence Day celebrations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. Some hundreds of civil servants and students gathered to mark the country's 64th Independence Day. The country gained independence from France on Nov. 9, 1953. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A letter from Sar Kheng, the interior minister, circulated this week showed the government had formed a working group staffed by senior ruling party officials.

Cambodia has announced it is researching possible amendments to the constitution following months of political upheaval that has seen the country’s main opposition party outlawed.

The research was reportedly ordered by Hun Sen, who requested an amendment to allow him to directly appoint secretaries of state without legislative approval.

A letter from Sar Kheng, the interior minister, circulated this week showed the government had formed a working group staffed by senior ruling party officials.

Chin Malin, justice spokesman, could not be reached for comment. Khieu Sopheak, an interior spokesman, declined to comment on the proposed constitutional amendments as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

This is not the first time Hun Sen has raised the issue of amending the country’s constitution. In August 2016, Hun Sen suggested that Article 2, which defines Cambodia’s territory, restricted which maps the government could use to negotiate its borders.

Previous amendments to the Constitution conducted by Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party have succeeded as the CPP holds a majority of seats in the legislature and the Constitutional Council of Cambodia.

Eng Chhay Eang, deputy president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November, said the proposed amendments were “a plot to stage a constitutional coup”.

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