Boycott ban added to draft election law

Boycott ban added to draft election law

The ruling and opposition parties have agreed to add a provision to a new draft election law that would seek to prevent any party that wins seats in the National Assembly being able to boycott parliament, a senior opposition lawmaker confirmed Thursday.

But the wording of the law, as leaked to local media, still appears to leave open the possibility of the kind of boycott the CNRP launched in the aftermath of the 2013 poll after claiming the election had been rigged.

The draft law states that parties can be stripped of their seats if they boycott the first session of parliament, the swearing-in of lawmakers or when the assembly declares their validity, but only if the election has been “free, fair and just”.

The law says this would be judged according to the Constitution, the law on the Constitutional Council, the National Election Committee law and the election law.

Senior CNRP lawmaker and election reform negotiator Eng Chhay Eang confirmed the provision.

“If the election is not free, fair or just, [any party] that does not join parliament but has their seats taken, it would not be good,” he said.

“[We] would not be able to take their seats for re-distribution.”

The decision of the two parties comes after Prime Minister Hun Sen last month explicitly called on working groups drafting amendments to the election law to include a provision that would prevent parliamentary boycotts.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy also announced Thursday morning that the two parties had agreed to pass the new NEC law and amended election law in the National Assembly by the end of this month.

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