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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen sets Senate elections for January

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks to supporters during a CPP campaign rally earlier this month in Phnom Penh
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks to supporters during a CPP campaign rally earlier this month in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Hun Sen sets Senate elections for January

The next Senate elections will be held on January 14, according to a directive issued on Friday and ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who noted earlier this month that his party’s performance at the June 4 commune elections means it will almost definitely win the chamber.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen has decided to take Sunday, January 14, 2018, for the indirect elections to select the fourth mandate of the Senate,” the document from the Council of Ministers says.

Only the nation’s commune councillors vote in the six-yearly Senate elections and have in the past tended to vote along party lines, with the Cambodian People’s Party’s strong performances in local votes translating into majorities in the nearly powerless upper house.

The CPP presently has 46 senators in the 61-seat Senate, with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party holding 11 while the Royal Palace and National Assembly each appoint two senators.

The CPP won 51 percent of the nationwide vote to around 44 percent won by the Cambodia National Rescue Party at the June 4 commune vote, according to preliminary results, but won majorities on about 71 percent of the country’s 1,646 councils.

The Senate only has the power to delay legislation passed by the popularly elected National Assembly, but its president, appointed by the majority vote of the chamber, acts as head of state when the king is abroad and is able to sign legislation into law in his absence.

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