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Consensus reached on local election law

Consensus reached on local election law

The opposition and ruling parties yesterday agreed on changes to the commune election law after key demands by the Cambodia National Rescue Party negotiators were accepted by their counterparts.

Hailed on both sides as proof that the “culture of dialogue” continued between the political rivals, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng and CNRP president Sam Rainsy announced that, after nearly four months of negotiations, a consensus had been reached over amendments to the 2007 commune election law and changes to the internal rules of the National Assembly.

“This shows the culture of dialogue is active and progressive because we are able to give concessions to each other,” Rainsy said at a joint press conference at the National Assembly.

“We hope to have free and fair election to set the destiny for our future.”

Adding that teams had been working against the clock, Kheng added: “The meeting today shows both parties’ will to compromise on the draft law.”

Regarding the 16-chapter, 196-article commune election law, the outcome saw the CNRP prevail in its demand that punishments for candidate intimidation, vote buying and civil servants acting on behalf of political parties remain in the legislation, according to CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith.

It also secured the opposition’s right to extend campaign rally marches between communes, which the Cambodian People’s Party wanted banned for “security” reasons.

The campaigning period will be changed to 14 days, a slight compromise, with the CNRP wanting to keep the existing 15-day term and CPP negotiators pushing for 10, Ponhearith said.

The leaders also agreed upon the 16 chapters and 83 provisions of internal regulations for parliament, though few details were released.

During the press briefing, Rainsy also told journalists that he had asked Kheng to release several imprisoned CNRP members before Pchum Ben day, though Kheng said the topic was not on the agenda.

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