A workshop held to debate reform of the National Election Committee July 2 ran into
problems after the ruling Cambodian People's Party representative proposed that none
of the political parties be represented on the body.
Instead, the CPP's Ok Kimhan said his party's draft bill would see a reformed NEC
with five members, rather than the current 11, most of whom were appointed by the
"The political parties accepted the result of the local elections [held February
2002], which means the electoral law was acceptable, although it is not 100 percent
perfect," said Kimhan. "The law should be reformed, but we should not change
everything about it."
Kimhan said under the CPP's proposal, the five would be drawn from dignitaries, although
he did not elaborate on how they would be chosen or who would be eligible.
The royalist Funcinpec, on the other hand, had proposed each of the three parties
in the National Assembly have two members on a six member NEC. Kimhan drew on the
recent World Cup for an analogy.
"We are like soccer players, but at the same time we want to work as referees?
How can we find transparency and justice that way?" he asked, adding that Funcinpec's
proposal would require a new NEC every time a new party was represented in the Assembly.
Reform of the NEC, which oversees the country's elections, is widely regarded by
donors, civil society and some politicians as vital for transparent elections. A
general election has been scheduled for July 27, 2003, and all changes to the NEC
must be completed no less than nine months before that date.
Funcinpec's Monh Saphan, who chairs the legislative commission of the National Assembly,
said the different positions between the CPP and Funcinpec was a problem that could
only be resolved if the two leaders met to discuss it. He said the CPP was showing
no willingness to reform the NEC.
Kassie Neou, current vice-president of the NEC, agreed the body needed reform and
new membership. He said the commune elections cost the government $8 million in staff
salaries and for the registration of voters. He felt that was too expensive.
The CPP celebrated the 51st anniversary of its founding June 28 and called for
the coalition between itself and Funcinpec to continue after next year's general
"It is in this spirit that the CPP continues to strengthen its close cooperation
with Funcinpec," party president Chea Sim told attendant diplomats and thousands
of party faithful. "That will ensure the stability of our nation and the realization
of the Royal Government's ongoing political platform."