C AMBODIA's next election should be run by an independent commission headed by
the King, and the armed forces put under his control during the election period,
according to First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
who stressed he was expressing his personal view only - outlined his proposals
for the next election to a meeting of Cambodian human rights groups on April
He said the election, due in 1998, should be run by Cambodians
themselves with three key conditions.
"One, there should be an
independent commission to be presided over by His Majesty the King, as the
father of the nation.
"Secondly, all armed forces - military and police -
must be...independent and neutral and put under direct control of the King, not
of any government.
"The third condition is that governors of [all]
provinces, districts and sub-districts must really be neutral," Ranariddh
He believed the 1998 election could be free, fair and democratic if
these conditions were met.
Cambodian parliamentarians were recently urged
by two visiting foreign experts to begin preparing for the next election, to
ensure it could be held on time.
Cambodia's constitution says an
electoral organizing body and the procedures for holding elections must be
defined by an electoral law. No such law has yet been prepared.
also been debate over what type of electoral system was best for Cambodia, but
Prince Ranariddh did not touch on that issue in his comments.
however, express the hope that the party which won the elections should form a
coalition government, in order to provide stability to the country.
he continued: "The winner should deserve some pride as well. There should be
transparency, there should be something in conformity with the real will the
people express through that free, fair and democratic
Ranariddh's Funcinpec party, despite winning the most votes at
Cambodia's 1993 United Nations-run elections, is frequently claimed by observers
to have less real power than its coalition partner, the Cambodian People's
Meanwhile, at his meeting with human rights groups, Ranariddh also
faced questioning about the government's bid to have the United Nations Center
for Human Rights (UNCHR) in Cambodia "phased out".
He threw his support
behind the UNCHR, though he complained of its attitude toward the government in
"We enthusiastically welcome the continued presence of the
"But, we have been disappointed [at UNCHR's] unfair treatment of
us. We should have had discussion about the problems, rather than to make
reports [of allegations]. We want the center to be our friend."
Co-Prime Ministers wrote to the UN in March, seeking the UNCHR's withdrawal at
the end of the year. Several senior government officials have since said they do
not mind if it stays in Cambodia.
UN undersecretary-general Marrack
Goulding arrived in Cambodia in early May to investigate whether the UNCHR
should remain after its March 1996 mandate expires.