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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Changes to give CNRP district seats to CPP

CPP lawmakers, seen on a monitor at the National Assembly, sit in the body’s half-empty chambers during a plenary session that was boycotted by the opposition CNRP last week amid an intensifying political crackdown.
CPP lawmakers, seen on a monitor at the National Assembly, sit in the body’s half-empty chambers during a plenary session that was boycotted by the opposition CNRP last week amid an intensifying political crackdown. Hong Menea

Changes to give CNRP district seats to CPP

Under proposed amendments to the election law, if the main opposition party is dissolved, CNRP district seats throughout the country would be divvied up among parties that competed at the district level in the 2014 elections, officials confirmed yesterday – with the ruling party the overwhelming beneficiary.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry said yesterday senators representing the Candlelight Party – formerly the Sam Rainsy Party – would be able to keep their seats. However, they will almost certainly be removed by a vote in the upcoming Senate elections in January, which are decided by commune councillors, almost all of whom will be CPP if the opposition party is dissolved.

A proposed election law amendment announced last week would give every commune seat to the ruling party, save one.

The Candlelight Party, renamed after a law banned any party’s association with a convicted criminal, has 11 seats in the Senate. The party had planned to dissolve after the end of this term, but Candlelight Senator Teav Vannol said yesterday it would still operate if the Supreme Court does decide to dissolve the CNRP – ostensibly for violating provisions within the Law on Political Parties over allegations widely seen as political.

“I believe the government won’t dissolve CNRP,” Vannol said, calling the move “illegal”.

“If anything does happen, the Candlelight Party . . . is eligible for competition [in the elections].”

CNRP Deputy President Mu Sochua embraced the possibility of the Candlelight Party’s participation in future elections, saying there is a “strong possibility” disgruntled CNRP supporters would flock to the party if the CNRP is out of the running.

Meanwhile, proposed amendments to the law dictating the selection of municipal, provincial, city and district councillors mirror changes at the commune level, and will result in an increase in CPP seats.

The move would further cement the ruling party’s control of the provinces and would invalidate 679 district seats won by the CNRP in 2014, according to numbers published by government news site AKP. The next district level vote is scheduled for May 2019.

Under two other draft amendments announced last week, all 489 commune chief seats belonging to the CNRP would be void and handed to the ruling party.

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