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Opposition may not take seats

Reforming election body still a sticking point between the government and the CNRP

Opposition politicians may postpone taking their seats in parliament if an agreement over the composition of a reformed election body cannot be reached in the coming days.

The decision over who will fill the ninth spot on the National Election Committee – reserved for a “consensus” member who will hold the balance of power – could prove problematic as civil society members who may be suited to the job are seen by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party as aligned with the opposition.

Opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party spokeswoman Mu Sochua said yesterday that if all nine members were not agreed on after the working group discussions, opposition politicians would postpone taking the oath of office.

“If they don’t accept our technical demand, which is that the nine members of the NEC must be selected . . . we are not going to take the oath,” she said.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that three cross-party working groups had been created to implement the fine print of an agreement reached between CNRP president Sam Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday.

“It will take about two weeks to complete the amendment of the constitution, the amendment of the election law. Also we have to prepare the candidates for the NEC. We have to complete the legal framework,” he said.

Party leader Rainsy has been approved to become a member of parliament for Kampong Cham province, NEC secretary general Tep Nitha confirmed yesterday.

Cheam Yeap, a senior CPP politician, said the permanent committee of the National Assembly would convene on Monday to discuss Rainsy taking up a seat in the National Assembly.

At Phnom Penh Municipal court yesterday, CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha was questioned over a protest organised by party members that turned violent earlier this month.

Sokha said: “The judge asked me what I knew about the violence on July 15. I said I did not know anything about it because I was not there.”

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