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Details meted out for election panel

The first meeting of a joint election-reform committee that was agreed to last week by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party will meet for the first time on Thursday, officials from both sides said yesterday.

Each side has appointed six officials, and the CNRP sent a formal request to the CPP on Saturday, Son Chhay, senior opposition lawmaker and head of its delegation to the committee, said.

“We will look at establishing a working framework for the committee on what our mandate is, our role, how we are going to rotate [the chairperson] and how we are going to make decisions.”

The technical committee would focus on researching and eventually producing a report of necessary election reforms, he added, with larger issues of an early election or an electoral investigation to be discussed when top party leaders finally meet for talks to end the ongoing political deadlock.

“We [will] concentrate on the reform of the election system [so] if the leaders of the parties agree on an early election then we are ready for that and we will not be delayed.”

The committee would also look to meet with donors in the near future to inform them how they can assist, he said.

Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap confirmed yesterday that the ruling party would attend the meeting on Thursday.

The CPP delegation consists of himself, deputy prime minister Bin Chhin and lawmakers Chheang Vun, Pen Panha, Sik Bun Hok and Krouch Sam An, he said, while the CNRP delegation consists of Chhay and lawmakers Yim Sovann, Yem Ponharith, Kuoy Bunroeun, Mao Monyvann and Eng Chhay Eang.

Following Japan, Australia has become the latest country that Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested to assist Cambodia with election reform, according to statements made after a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Saturday.

“Involving election issues, her excellency will take the request of Cambodia into consideration,” Eang Sophalleth, the premier’s spokesman, told reporters.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VONG SOKHENG

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