The climate of political compromise between the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP)
and the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) continues to warm following a recent move
to balance representation in the National Election Committee (NEC).
Two SRP officials will be added to the NEC ahead of commune and national elections
scheduled for 2007 and 2008 respectively
"Although there is still a big gap in competing with the ruling party, the SRP
will win the election and step forward to hold power following 2008," Rainsy
told the Post
Currently, the five members of the NEC have officially resigned from their political
parties and been elected by the National Assembly. Three are former CPP members and
two are from junior coalition party Funicinpec.
According to Rainsy, the NEC will be increased to nine members; the CPP will hold
five seats and the SRP and Funcinpec two each.
Serei Kosal, senior Minister from Funcinpec, said a discussion of NEC membership
is on the agenda of the Council of Ministers meeting on April 21.
"It doesn't matter which political party they are from, the neutrality of the
NEC depends on the conscience of the members," Kosal said.
Rainsy said it was unfair to have only members of the two coalition parties on the
NEC and said this exclusion would lead to a lack of the checks and balances and negate
"I have requested Prime Minister Hun Sen and he has agreed with me on the proposal
to reform the NEC," Rainsy said.
Some election monitoring NGOs have criticized the NEC's recruitment process and accused
the committee of not being transparent and for favoring the ruling party.
The NEC bears the responsibility of planning, organizing and managing free and fair
"I think there are no independent members of the NEC," said opposition
parliamentarian Keo Remmy. "The reshuffle will improve checks and balances within
the election process
Rainsy maintains that Hun Sen is committed to improving the transparency and effectiveness
of the government, and has agreed to several requests submitted by the SRP to amend
the Constitution and resolve land issues.
"We have a close relationship with the CPP based on the spirit of mutual respect
and the interest of the nation," Rainsy said. "But, it is not a defection
to the CPP. Our aim is to take over by winning the coming elections and to hold the
Rainsy said the SRP will not dispense gifts to the poor to earn votes. He said the
SRP will also eliminate the culture of building schools, roads and irrigation to
curry favor for political purpose.
He said the SRP will focus on the fight against corruption and push for transparency
in financial management to promote national development.
Tep Nytha, secretary-general of the NEC, told the Post on April 19 that the reform
of the NEC's composition is needed to amend Parliament's National Election Law.
"However, I think that the initiative to reform the NEC will not help to encourage
effective work. It will be difficult to get a quorum to make a decision when there
are more members and more ideas," Nytha said.
Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (COMFREL),
said the initiative for NEC reform would not be reflected by independence or neutrality,
nor would it ensure free and fair elections.
"I think that the stakeholders have considered the NEC as representing political
parties that won seats in the National Assembly - this does not represent a neutrality
for all," Panha said.
He said in the current political system in Cambodia all institutions of the government
have remained under the influence of political party leaders and therefore individual
party members are not independent.
Sam Rithy Duonng Hak, chief of Cabinet for the SRP, said the assessment made by the
party to target between 50 and 62 seats in the National Assembly after 2008 was based
on optimism about the young generation. He added that the crisis in Funcinpec's leadership
would encourage eligible voters to change their votes.
"Our political party will [overtake] Funcinpec when the royalists fail to carry
out their original political platform such as the fight against corruption, creating
jobs for people and illegal immigration," Hak said. "Since Funcinpec formed
its coalition with the CPP, there has still been widespread corruption and nepotism."
Nytha said that based on annual updates of voters lists following the 2003 national
election, the NEC has found an increase of roughly 200,000 eligible voters each year.
He said that in national elections 2008 there will 7.1 million eligible voters.