T HE National Assembly remained paralyzed for the third week in succession
because parties could not agree on the inclusion of CPP strongmen Prince Norodom
Chakrapong and Sin Song as new Assembly members.
As the Post went to
press, there is no indication of when it will meet next.
The Assembly has
not been able to consider desperately-needed laws on investment, immigration or
the Supreme Council of Magistracy or discuss any other issue because the
inclusion of new members is the first item on its agenda. It has also stalled
the Royal Government's attempt to bring in legislation controlling the press.
The controversy over the CPP pair has split the government, with First
Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh reportedly strongly against the inclusion of
them. The two men led a short-lived separatist revolt in five eastern provinces
after last year's elections and Sin Song has also been linked to CPP death
squads which killed dozens of political opponents in the run up to the
Discussions are now going on between Prince Ranariddh and the two
top men in the CPP, Second Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen and National Assembly
Chairman Chea Sim. Both Hun Sen and Chea Sim support Prince Chakrapong and Sin
Song's entry into parliament.
A meeting of the Permanent Committee of the
National Assembly, headed by Chea Sim was held on April 29 to decide whether the
re-inclusion of the two CPP members is legal.
But Human Rights
Commission Chairman Kem Sokha, a member of the committee, says that though five
lawyers were present at the stormy session, the committee broke up without an
agreement. A further meeting was planned for May 5.
The controversy has
arisen because 19 members of parliament -13 from the Funcinpec and six from the
CPP - have been nominated to governor's, ambassador's or other posts and their
places have become vacant.
The parties can now nominate new candidates
from the list of candidates they had submitted before last year's election.
According to the Untac electoral law, parties first submitted lists of
candidates for each province, which were formally approved by Untac.
After the elections, the number of seats a party was entitled to in a
province was calculated according to the number of votes it had won there, using
a complex mathematical formula set out in the Untac electoral law.
party then filled up its quota of seats for every province by naming members
from its party list.
Chakrapong and Sin Song were on the CPP list from
Kompong Cham and Prey Veng respectively and were named to the assembly by the
But they did not take their seats because they were involved in the
secession attempt days after the election last year. Other members were
nominated to their places.
Funcinpec and BLDP oppose their belated entry
to parliament, saying members who failed to take their places have forfeited
their claim to assembly seats and cannot be re-nominated.
illegal under the Untac election law," says Funcinpec MP Monh Saphan.
Article 78 of the law states: "If any member resigns, dies or is unable
to take his or her place .... the next person on the list would be considered
duly elected." Funcinpec and BLDP MPs say this rules out any re-nomination.
The CPP points out that the Untac election rules were meant to govern
the election and form the Constituent Assembly, which drafted the new
constitution. Since the constitution is now in force, the Untac law is invalid,
the Chakrapong, Sin Song advocates argue.
It is also unclear whether
Chakrapong and Sin Song formally resigned their places, because their names have
not been struck off the list.
Funcinpec and BLDP MPs say they did write
letters forgoing their seats but cannot confirm it or find copies of the letter.
Neutral observers say that technically, Untac election laws are not
valid now, but it is necessary to refer to them simply because there is no other
electoral law. Says one foreign law expert:"Since members have been elected on
the basis of this law, they should consult it when faced with a
At the Assembly, Funcinpec and BLDP propose to consider each
replacement candidate on a case by case basis. This in effect means that while
the other four CPP candidates could be approved, Chakrapong and Sin Song could
be singled out for rejection.
The CPP insists that it will submit a list
of candidates for all six seats and the list should be either completely
accepted or rejected.
It will be difficult for Funcinpec and BLDP to
reject the entire list because of two candidates.
Observers feel that if
the CPP has its way, it will set a very bad precedent and parties could use such
backdoor entries to their advantage.