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Parliament Approves Plan to Redistribute Opposition Seats

CPP party lawmakers voted to approve the drafts of the amended election laws at the National Assembly, Monday, October 16, 2017. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)

The Cambodian government has hailed the move as evidence of the health of Cambodian democracy.

Ruling party lawmakers on Monday voted to approve amendments to four election laws that would see the opposition’s seats in the National Assembly handed out to minority parties if it is dissolved by the Supreme Court in a case lodged by the government.

The proposed amendments would also see the party’s Senate, commune and district council seats reallocated.

The government has hailed the move as evidence of the health of Cambodian democracy.

Cheam Yeap, a ruling party spokesman, said the decision of parliament was a result of the “treason” of Kem Sokha, the president of the CNRP, who was arrested in September on charges that he plotted with a foreign power to overthrow Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“The Cambodian People’s Party, the ruling party, cannot accept the act and demand to proceed with the case according to the constitution and law,” he said.

Sar Kheng, an interior minister, declined to comment.

Unlike in the national assembly, where the CNRP’s seats have been promised to minor parties that only won a tiny percentage of the popular vote, commune council seats will be handed out to all parties who took part in the local elections last year, further bolstering the CPP’s grassroots power base.

Eng Chhai Eang, CNRP vice president, on Monday, wrote on his Facebook page that the amendments were unconstitutional and a violation of the public trust placed in elections in 2013 and 2015.

He said: “If anyone implements the amendments to distribute the dissolving chamber to any political party, it can be considered an act of corrupting people’s will, and those who receive the new seats can be considered as benefiting from stealing.”

Em Sovannara, a political analyst, said the ruling party “desires to maintain power or popularity from the people as it can be seen that in the commune election in June the Cambodia National Rescue Party could compete with the ruling party.”

“Therefore, the plan to dissolve the Cambodia National Rescue Party is the best method to eliminate such a powerful enemy from the political arena.”