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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Licadho's Kek accepts NEC seat, with conditions

Pung Chiv Kek

Licadho's Kek accepts NEC seat, with conditions

Licadho president Pung Chhiv Kek has conditionally accepted a position as the ninth member of the reformed National Election Committee following a cross-party meeting this morning, according to the opposition.

Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy confirmed that a letter from Kek outlining a set of conditions for her to accept the job had been received and the party had issued a response.

“I have received her letter and my vice-president [Kem Sokha] and I have replied to her, saying that we will do our best with the consensus to ensure that her demands be met when she fulfills her duties,” he said.

Yim Sovann, CNRP spokesman, laid out the conditions in a phone interview with the Post.

“She asked for immunity for the NEC members. She also asked for autonomy of decision-making, that the NEC must have the right to choose their staff,” he said.

He added that the NEC having an independent budget and being able to receive international donations were also demands included in the letter

It was not immediately clear how the immunity would operate.

Senior Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap earlier confirmed that she had been approached for the job after Prime Minister Hun Sen met with opposition leader Sam Rainsy this morning.

“This morning, before the extraordinary session of the National Assembly, Samdech Hun Sen spoke with Excellency Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha for about 10 minutes in the hall of the National Assembly … and the two leaders chose Mrs Pung Chhiv Kek.

The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, known as Licadho, was founded by Kek in 1992 after she helped broker the Paris Peace Accords between Hun Sen and King Norodom Sihanouk, ending the civil war of the 1980s.

Kem Ley, a political analyst and board member of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, was cautiously optimistic about the decision.

“I think Pung Kek so far has helped the government in terms of negotiations, [but] she performed well in terms of human right protection in Cambodia,” he said.

“I support her selection, but she is always biased with the CPP. The CNRP assume that, if they select Lao Mong Hay, the CPP will not agree. For me, it is at least better than before. It’s a reasonable choice. It’s good, but we need to still have a national election.”

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