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Hang Puthea, head of Cambodian election-monitoring group Nicfec, has been selected to fill the ninth position of the reformed National Election Committee, according to a letter sent from Prime Minister Hun Sen to opposition leader Sam Rainsy.
The letter, dated Sunday, says that, as per “the conversation between you and I on the phone on March 29, our parties have agreed to take Mr Hong Puthea, executive director of Nicfec, as the ninth candidate of the NEC.”
“To fulfill this procedure, both of our parties have prepared a joint official letter to the Permanent Committee of the NA [National Assembly] to confirm our agreement on this candidate.
“I have already prepared this joint letter and already signed on it, so I would like Your Excellency [Sam Rainsy] to inspect and sign this letter to send to the Permanent Committee of the NA before the NA closes the deadline for accepting applicants,” it says.
Rainsy could not be immediately reached to confirm Puthea’s selection.
Contacted on Tuesday evening, Puthea, who has recently expressed interest in taking on the role, said he had not received any official letter from either party.
“I just hear maybe, but not [officially] from the CPP or CNRP, just from normal officials,” he said.
Puthea added that he had not yet made any firm decision about whether he would accept the role.
News of Puthea’s selection follows a public announcement this morning from Licadho president Pung Chhiv Kek – who was offered the role in July – that she had turned down the position.
In a statement, she explained that the role was described to her as “an independent member [who] will bring to this institution the neutrality it needs to organize elections in conformity with the Constitution and the national laws”.
“Today, I conclude that this task has become impossible,” she said.