The Senate approved amendments to eight articles of the election law in a June 29 session, chaired by senate president Say Chhum. The amendments were passed by the National Assembly last week.

“The amendments were passed without changes in a 59-0 unanimous vote by all of the members who were in attendance,” said senate secretary Um Sarith.

He explained that the amendments were designed to promote the value of a multi-party democracy and strengthen Cambodia’s democratic process.

He added that those who wish to stand as election candidates for a free and fair elections in the future, both at national and sub-national levels, must fulfil their duties as good citizens and take part in the election process.

“Exercising your right to vote is the duty of every citizen in a democratic society,” he said.

“These amendments will ensure that the National Election Committee is able to continue to strengthen the democratic process and the rule of law, so they are effective and sustainable,” he added.

On June 23, the National Assembly passed the draft amendment, which alters eight articles of the election law.

Minister of Justice Koeut Rith, spoke on behalf of Minister of Interior Sar Kheng and defended the law during the senate session.

A day ahead of the senate session, the Candlelight Party, who was unable to qualify for registration for the July 23 general election, criticised the amendments and raised concerns that they may cause some people to be ineligible to stand as candidates during the next commune election in 2027 and general election in 2028.

Several government officials allayed their concerns, noting that the amendments were being made for the sake of protecting democracy and to encourage people to perform their civic duties.

The Ministry of Interior issued a June 28 statement which described how the amendments will prevent any activities that hinder people from going to vote, and would ensure that future elections go smoothly, without intimidation or incitement.

The ministry added that Cambodia has followed the principles of a multi-party democracy for the past three decades, and the amendment would promote the spirit of these principles. A total of 18 elections have been conducted.

“This does not affect the rights of any individual. The right to cast a ballot, or not, is enshrined in the constitution. Voting is not mandatory, as it is in some democratic countries,” it explained.

It concluded that the amendments would promote responsible behaviour among people who sought election.

The secretariat of the Constitutional Council announced that a government delegation will defend the draft amendments before the council on June 30.