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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - SRP out in parliamentary cold

SRP out in parliamentary cold

The CPP and Funcinpec members of the National Assembly finally agreed in majority

vote on August 12 to exclude the opposition Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians from

positions on the nine assembly commissions.

Each commission has a specific responsibility to examine and revise draft laws before

submission to the full session and will also investigate government scandals.

The CPP will chair five commissions and Funcinpec four. In each commission, there

are four CPP members and three Funcinpec.

However, a local election monitoring group has criticized what it describes as a

manipulation of power-sharing of legislative and executive conducted by the CPP and

Funcinpec which it says would weaken developing democracy in Cambodia and remove

any checks and balances.

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia

(Comfrel) told the Post that the political compromising between CPP and Funcinpec

will not help to bring appropriate reform in governance.

"I think the overwhelming consideration is for the interest of their own political

parties. The CPP and Funcinpec do not have enough political will to serve the Cambodian

people," said Panha.

"I am very concerned about good governance when there is no role for the opposition

party."

Ngoun Nhel (CPP), Second Vice President of the National Assembly, told the assembly

the power sharing within its commissions was based on the political agreement between

CPP and Funcinpec.

"To carry out democracy in the world we must respect the majority voice, and

our National Assembly implemented the protocol of the agreement made on March 15

[by Prime Minister Hun Sen and Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh],"

said Nhel.

In the agreement Hun Sen allowed Funcinpec to share its government and commission

positions with the SRP.

Son Chhay, opposition lawmaker, said the SRP on July 30 requested Funcinpec to allocate

some positions on the commissions, but there was no reply.

Prince Norodom Sirivudh, secretary-general of Funcinpec and a newly appointed deputy

Prime Minister, avoided the Post as he left an assembly meeting on August 12 when

the Post tried to ask him to comment on why the royalist party ignored its alliance

with the SRP.

Hun Sen said on August 2 that he would allow the opposition to join the commission,

but it must consult with Prince Ranariddh to get his approval.

On August 9, an SRP press statement said that with the absence of an opposition at

the committee work level, the bloated government was composed of the same powerful

figures who controlled both the legislature and the executive.

Sam Rainsy, president of the SRP, told reporters at the National Assembly on August

12: "I think the prevention of position of legitimate rights to seats on the

assembly's commissions will be a serious setback for Cambodia's democracy and would

be a bad sign for any progress in the fight against corruption and for good governance

and poverty reduction."

The suppression of the minority political group in terms of limiting their roles

and responsibilities could only reinforce the weak governance the ruling parties

were famous for, Rainsy added.

The SRP won 24 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly, the CPP 73, and Funcinpec

26.

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