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Opposition Renews Push for a Parliamentary Approved Election Body

cnrp seminar
cnrp seminar
Cambodia’s opposition has written a formal request to the country’s ruling party, requesting an agreement to reform the national election body before political negotiations resume on Monday.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party wants a two-thirds majority vote on members of the National Election Committee, which it views as politically biased toward the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

The Rescue Party has been boycotting the formation of a new government since the July 2013 elections, which it says were marred by fraud.

The CPP has said a majority vote for NEC members was not an original part of negotiations.

“The CPP has no willingness to reform the NEC,” Son Chhay, a negotiator for the Rescue Party, told VOA Khmer Thursday.

But CPP lawmaker Cheam Yiep said the Rescue Party was using the NEC issue to stall negotiations.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Wednesday that the Rescue Party could end negotiations and instead resort to mass demonstrations over the NEC issue.

Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the Rescue Party, said the party wants the NEC to become a constitutional institution, rather than one formed by appointment, to “protect it from political power.” This would help prevent election irregularities committed by NEC members with political bias, he said.

Political analysts say a step toward a more independent election body is needed.

The NEC is currently “fragile,” said Yang Kim Eng, head of the People’s Center for Development and Peace. Recreating it as a constitutional body could give its members political immunity, he said.

Koul Panha, head of the election-monitoring group Comfrel, told VOA Khmer that an independent election body would but Cambodia on par with other democratic countries in the region. But to do so will require a constitutional amendment, he said.