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Commune elections not clear on dual nationality

Commune elections not clear on dual nationality

Funcinpec Secretary General Loy Sim Chheang said his party and the CPP should work

out a compromise on the controversial issue of dual nationality, so that a draft

law on communal elections can be passed, clearing the way for the elections to be

held.

"The two main parties must find a way out on this question before the draft

makes its way to the National Assembly," Chheang told the Post Feb 4.

A 28-page draft law prepared by the Ministry of Interior allows Khmers of both sexes

to run for the post of commune and sangkat leader, but leaves open the question of

whether candidates can hold dual nationality.

Article 24 of the draft which outlines the criteria for electoral candidates ends

with brackets that read "the issue of single or dual nationality has not yet

been agreed upon".

At its recent extraordinary general assembly, the CPP adopted as its political platform

a policy that bans dual citizenship for electoral candidates, starting from chief

of commune upwards. The policy throws out a challenge to the royalist party where

leaders, including Prince Ranariddh, hold foreign passports.

Chheang who is also vice-chairman of the National Assembly admitted that tension

between the coalition partners over the issue had remained intense.

But to fulfill commitments made to the international community that communal as well

as national elections will be held as planned, Funcinpec and the CPP must find a

breakthrough in the stalemate, he said.

"I can not say what compromise will be suitable [to both parties], but I'm optimistic

that there must be a way out," Chheang said.

Maintaining a solid alliance between Funcinpec and the CPP is a crucial precondition

for stability, otherwise "I don't think the election can be held", he added.

If no compromise can be reached by the two parties before it reaches the floor of

the National Assembly, as Chheang has suggested, voting on the draft law could prove

to be disastrous as none of the parties can muster an absolute majority in the parliament.

An observer who has been closely watching the evolution of the draft law was doubtful

that Funcinpec would give in to CPP whose stance on the issue also remains firm.

The result will be the passage of the draft law being dragged on indefinitely, raising

fears that the communal election will not be held as scheduled.

A Cambodian NGO worker suggested that the best timing for the election was May rather

than July, a time when farmers who represent majority of the population are busy

farming.

"It's difficult to see this election being held on time. If the preparations

[for the communal election] are not done properly, the results will not be free and

fair, setting a bad precedent for the national election," the worker said, asking

not to be named.

"Who loses or wins is not our concern, [but] what does concern us is that the

election is free and fair," he said.

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