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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Inside the Commune Council

Inside the Commune Council

  • The first commune elections were held in February 2002. They enabled Cambodians

    to elect their local government representatives in the form of Commune Councils.

    These would replace the previous state-appointed Commune Chiefs

  • The development of commune councils marked the beginning of a shift from a centrally

    dominated government structure to a more decentralized system. It was foreseen that

    a decentralized system would allow citizens to have greater involvement in decisions

    about local issues

  • There are 1,621 commune councils spread over 20 provinces and the four municipalities

    of Phnom Penh, Kep, Sihanoukville and Pailin

  • Commune councils consist of five to 11 members, depending on the population and

    location of the commune. Commune councillors are elected for a five-year term

  • Each commune has two deputy chiefs, who are determined by the outcome of the

    general vote

  • A commune chief has the power to carry out the decisions of the commune council,

    as well as to appoint committees. The first deputy chief is responsible for economic

    and financial affairs, while the second deputy chief focuses on public services,

    public order and social affairs

  • To enhance the effectiveness of the commune council, each council must appoint

    one village chief, who will then select a deputy chief to help him/her implement

    the duties assigned by the commune council and facilitate between the council and

    the villagers

  • The mission of commune councils is to serve the common interests of citizens

    and act as the agent of the central government

  • The specific functions of a commune council are: to maintain order; to offer

    citizens' services that cater to their health, well-being and contentment; to plan

    for economic and social development; to ensure citizens have a quality standard of

    living; to protect cultural and environmental property; to help establish tolerance

    and mutual understanding within communes; to respond to the needs of the commune

    community

  • Commune councils must work with citizens to produce a yearly development plan

    and budget, which is then submitted to the Ministry of Interior. A handbook published

    by a Cambodian election monitoring organization says the development role offers

    citizens "more opportunity to make decisions about local issues that affect

    their living standards."

  • The commune council must meet at least once a month
  • One of the most critical tools for councils is the right to levy taxes
  • In February 2007, The Cambodian National Election Council (NEC) announced that

    102,266 candidates, including 21,840 female ones, would compete for 11,353 seats

    in 1,621 communes nationwide in the April 1 commune council election

  • A 2004 Asia Foundation commissioned survey was conducted to establish information

    about Cambodia's newly elected local government. A total of 1,416 citizens and 708

    commune councilors were surveyed. Information gathered from the survey concluded

    that:

  • Cambodians were generally satisfied with the performance of their commune council,

    and thought performance had improved after the 2002 elections

  • Citizens were aware of the role and functions of the commune councils
  • Citizens did not think their commune councils were adversely affected by partisan

    politics, but one third of councilors did

  • Conflict mediation within a village at commune level was easier, and more effective,

    than mediation at higher government levels

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