Despite three secret meetings between rival presidential candidates, the Cambodian
Bar Association (CBA) cancelled the election of CBA council members scheduled for
The election of the 19 council members is held every three years, but 12 of the current
members requested that a vote for president be held at the same session, in an effort
to end a year-long dispute over the leadership.
The request was sent to incumbent president Ky Tech on September 15, said Sa Sovan,
who said he represents 12 of the CBA council members. The request also urged Tech
to drop charges of forgery filed against Suon Visal, whose election to the presidency
in October 2004 was disputed by Tech.
Ly Tayseng, acting secretary general of the CBA, rejected the request to elect both
the council and president on the same day, saying it would be against CBA bylaws.
Tayseng said the CBA council election is held every three years, and the elected
members then vote for a president every two years.
He said he had written twice to invite current bar council members during September
to begin campaigning for re-election, but some failed to respond.
"They did not explain the reason why they did not attend," Tayseng said.
However, CBA council member Chiv Songhak said he had not received an invitation letter
calling on him to campaign for re-election.
Tech said he did not support the dual vote because his court case against Visal was
still pending and the ruling could affect the outcome of a vote for president.
Three secret meetings had come to nothing, Tech said, because Visal insisted that
forgery charges against him be dropped. The charges stem from Visal's use of a new
CBA stamp and stationery.
He accused supporters of Visal of boycotting the elections.
"Their absence shows they don't have the will to organize an election,"
However, Visal said council members did not consider Tech the legitimate president
and so did not attend meetings called by him.
"What he [Tech] said is just a trick, he always rejects our proposals. Half
of the Bar's body has now died but it is not my fault," Visal said, referring
to the factional split and lack of CBA activities over the past year.
Emi Aizawa, assistant resident representative of the Japanese International Cooperation
Agency (JICA), regretted that the Cambodian Bar Association was unable to resolve
the spat, but said JICA had recently agreed to provide three months funding to the
Lawyers Training Center, an offshoot of the CBA.