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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - For the Record: The Assembly

For the Record: The Assembly

The new Secretary General of the Constituent Assembly, Lieutenant General Toh Lah,

recently spoke with the Post about the Constituent Assembly and the what it has accomplished

to date. In his description, he made a distinction between the work of the Constituent

Assembly as a Constituent Assembly and its work as the newly elected representative

body of the people of Cambodia. In the latter capacity it has empowered a Chief of

State for the interim period and approved a provisional government. Thus, though

the elected representatives of Cambodia have met four times, they have met to work

as a Constituent Assembly only once.

There have been those recently who have argued, especially from abroad, that the

Constituent Assembly has exceeded the mandate envisaged for it in the Paris Peace

Accords. Secretary General Tol Lah's two-way characterization of the role and work

of the elected representatives of the Cambodian people seems to be an answer to this

criticism.

The Inaugural Session of the Constituent Assembly:

June 14 1993

The inaugural session was a ceremonial meeting but it had an important outcome. Tol

Lah says "We do not consider this a session of the Constituent Assembly, it

was instead a meeting of the newly elected representatives of the people of Cambodia."

A motion was made by Prince Norodom Ranariddh to render null and void the "unconstitutional

coup d'état in 1970" which ousted Prince Norodom Sihanouk and installed

the Republican Regime of Lon Nol. The members of the Constituent Assembly approved

the motion unanimously.

As General Tol Lah describes it, the vote of the elected members of the Constituent

Assembly had the consequence of making null and void the removal of Sihanouk as Chief

of State in 1970, thus making uninterrupted his status as Cambodia's Chief of State

since "before 1970." Tol Lah said that the elected representatives had

the full power in what he calls a "special session to decide this issue."

First Session of the Constituent Assembly:

June 30, 1993

On June 30, the Constituent Assembly met for the first time as a Constituent Assembly.

There were six items on the agenda. First, the members of the Constituent Assembly

voted to elect Son Sann as the President of the Assembly. Second, the First and Second

Vice Presidents of the Constituent Assembly were elected. Third, the Constituent

Assembly adopted the set of rules and regulations that were submitted by the rules

committee. These were accepted unanimously. They will regulate the internal relations

and activity of the Assembly. They included a voting rule. "Important"

questions before the assembly can only be approved by a two-thirds majority.

Fourth, the Bureau of the President of the Constituent Assembly was elected. It included

two "questers," one from CPP and the other from FUNCINPEC. Fifth, five

secretaries were elected, all of them members of the Assembly. Two were from FUNCINPEC,

two were from CPP and one was from BLDP, as Tol Lah put it, "in proportion with

the configuration of the Assembly."

Sixth, the Constituent Assembly voted to establish two permanent committees. One

is chaged with drafting a constitution, and the other will draft the rules and regulations

for the National Assembly. As dictated by the Paris Peace Accords the Constituent

Assembly will become the National Assembly when the new constitution is approved

and the permanent government installed. Finally, a national anthem and a flag were

approved. With minor changes the anthem predates the Lon Nol regime, and the national

flag is that of Cambodia under Prince Sihanouk in the 1960's.

Special Meeting of the Elected Representatives of Cambodia:

July 1, 1993

This is the second session of the elected representatives of Cambodia. They voted

to accept the new government, the Provisional National Government of Cambodia, and

the slate of nominated Ministers, Vice-Ministers and Senior Ministers. Further, they

accepted the "Program of action of the Provisional National Government for the

coming three months." This document laid out the priorities for the government

in the transitional period. It was produced by a meeting of all the Ministers involved

and was chaired by Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

The Swearing in of the New Government:

July 2, 1993

The text used in the swearing in ceremony came from Prince Ranariddh. The committee

whose job it was to write the text, produced a much shorter one. But, Tol Lah says,

when they read the text that Ranariddh provided, they decided unanimously to accept

his.

The swearing in ceremony was led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who significantly swore

with the elected representatives of the Cambodian people and the leading members

of the Provisional National Government of Cambodia. The ceremony was accomplished

in front of the throne and in front of the King of the Monks.

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