Election reform talks done ‘in principle’, parties say

Officials empty a 2013 election ballot box in Kampong Cham
Officials empty a 2013 election ballot box in Kampong Cham. Heng Chivoan

Election reform talks done ‘in principle’, parties say

Election reform working groups from the ruling and opposition parties yesterday concluded negotiations on a new draft election law aimed at securing free and fair elections in 2017 and 2018.

Their announcement came two days after Prime Minister Hun Sen offered a stiff warning that they had until the end of the month to finalise a new draft law or else the current law would remain in effect, drawing condemnation from electoral watchdogs.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng and opposition leader Sam Rainsy will meet this afternoon to finalise the draft and attempt to resolve 15 outstanding points of disagreement.

“In principle, today we have finished the draft law discussions before the end of the month. But if the leaders need us as a technical group for further discussions, we will continue again,” CPP working group head Bin Chhin told reporters yesterday.

On Wednesday, Hun Sen called for a provision in the new law that would prevent parties from engaging in the kind of parliamentary boycott the opposition conducted after the 2013 poll.

Chhin yesterday said this point was being “kept” for leaders to decide, but added that if Rainsy disagreed, it would be sent to the National Assembly, where the CPP holds an absolute majority, for approval.

The parties largely focused on punishments and fines in the law yesterday.

CNRP working group head Kuoy Bunroeun said his party thought that 10 million to 30 million riel fines ($2,500 to $75,00) for NGOs that “look down” on political parties, as proposed by the CPP, were too harsh.

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