Ruling party dominance under fire for lacking checks, balances
FOLLOWING its landslide victory in last month's national election, the ruling Cambodian People's Party will dominate the new National Assembly, with CPP members poised to occupy the posts of Assembly president and deputy president, as well as the chairmanships of each of the Assembly's nine commissions.
Party spokesman and Ministry of Information Khieu Kanharith told reporters Sunday that the Assembly reshuffle would reflect the CPP's dominance at the polls.
"If [the opposition parties] get support then they can hold the positions of chairman and deputy chairman of the Assembly's commissions," Khieu Kanharith said, adding that the new Assembly would avoid the political deadlock that paralysed government following the 2003 election.
"This year, we were elected in one package, which has avoided political deadlocks. Therefore, we should follow with this political formula in order to maintain political stability," he said.
However, he said that strong opposition parties, civil society and a free press would play an important role in strengthening Cambodia's democracy.
In the outgoing Assembly, the CPP heads five commissions, while Funcinpec chairs two posts and the Sam Rainsy Party another two. But preliminary poll results showed a strong swing to the CPP, which won 58 percent of the vote over the SRP (21.9 percent) and the Human Rights Party (6.6 percent).
Khieu Kanharith's comments came amid criticism that few checks and balances will exist in the new Assembly once the CPP occupies most of its key positions.
Kek Galabru, president of rights group Licadho, said the CPP majority needed to be offset by a robust opposition presence in parliament.
"In order to strengthen democracy and good governance, the leadership structure should be formed to achieve the appropriate checks and balances between the ruling parties and the opposition," she said at a press conference last week.