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Parliament to Convene to Discuss Constitutional Amendments


FILE PHOTO - Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni, second right, poses for photograph altogether with Hun Sen, right, Cambodian Prime Minister, Chea Sim, second left, Cambodia Senate President, Heng Samrin, left, Cambodian National Assembly President, in front of the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The amendments include restrictions on freedom of association and political participation, as well as restrictions on criticism of the monarchy.

Cambodia’s parliament will meet on Wednesday to pass proposed amendments to the constitution that have been labeled undemocratic.

The amendments include restrictions on freedom of association and political participation, as well as restrictions on criticism of the monarchy and, have attracted criticism from rights groups.

The decision to amend the constitution came a week after ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights issued a statement warning that the proposed amendments would lead to a loss of rights for ordinary Cambodians.

It said the amendments “would inflict deep, long-lasting damage to Cambodia’s institutional framework, further eroding the rule of law and entrenching the authoritarian system that has crystallized since the dissolution of the CNRP.”

The Supreme Court ordered the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party dissolved in a contentious case last November.

Meas Ny, a political analyst, said the frequent changes to the law since the 2013 election was proving detrimental to the democratic process. “The laws are merely used to oppress their opponents or help the government consolidate power,” he said.

Son Chhay, a former CNRP lawmaker, said the amendments were a “serious violation of the constitution” and claimed that as the CNRP was the rightful opposition, the government did not have enough support in parliament to legitimately approve the changes.

Leng Penglong, a National Assembly spokesman, defended the move to amend the constitution.

“It’s a multi-party democracy. It doesn’t affect anything because everything is set by the law. So, the parliament is the law-maker,” he said.

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