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SRP rejects reports of ‘secret’ election deals

THE opposition Sam Rainsy Party yesterday dismissed recent media reports accusing it of rotating parliamentarians in key constituencies, saying they were a distraction from the government’s own failures.

The pro-government daily Kampuchea Thmey reported yesterday that according to “secret” SRP documents obtained by the newspaper, parliamentarians in seven constituencies – Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, Kampong Thom, Kandal and Prey Veng – would be rotated halfway through the current five-year mandate.

According to the Kampuchea Thmey report, the current holders of the seats would give them up to those who were next in line as candidates during national elections.

But SRP spokesman Yim Sovann rejected the reports, saying the document obtained by the newspaper was not official, and that the party had not made any decisions regarding the replacement of lawmakers.

“We are not interested in this issue, and so far we have not had any changes. What we are focusing on is the loss of people’s land, the elimination of corruption and territorial integrity,” he said.

The document came to light after Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a recent speech that senior SRP officials met last month in Manila, where a decision was allegedly made to split parliamentary terms between representatives.

“I would like to inform, I have also known about the Manila decision,” he said during a speech in Svay Rieng province on Monday. “I would like to tell you all, think of your party.... There has never been a people’s representative for a half-mandate.”

He also warned that the SRP’s strategy could allow pro-government moles to gain a foothold in the party, and predicted it would face a “crisis” by March 2011.

Koul Panha, executive director of local election monitor Comfrel, said the decision to change parliamentarians between elections was not strictly illegal, but that it violated the spirit of the constitution.

“This action affects the constitution and affects parliamentarians’ consciousness,” he said.

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