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Constitutional Council vote slated

Constitutional Council vote slated

THE National Assembly is poised to vote for its three representatives to the nine-member

Constitutional Council by as early as May 8.

Funcinpec parliamentarian Ahmed Yahya, speaking after the opposition boycott of the

Assembly ended, said Hun Sen and the CPP had agreed to the same deal on the Constitutional

Council that was originally agreed upon in 1993: that the dominant parties represented

in the Assembly (CPP, Funcinpec and BLDP) will each choose one council member.

But the CPP or its "affiliate" parties could yet emerge from the Assembly

on Friday with three Constitutional Council members. Well-informed sources said the

CPP may still seek to control more nominations. At present, a simple majority of

61 votes in a secret ballot - a number the CPP now controls - is enough to elect

three loyal CPP officials if they so wished.

This fact was not lost on the opposition, who included a balanced Constitutional

Council on their list of demands to end the boycott.

But they apparently did not get a clarification on what a Funcinpec- or BLDP-chosen

council member means.

CPP spokesman Khieu Kan-harith remarked after the compromise: "My opinion is

that it is okay. If the candidate fulfills the criteria... that won't be a problem.

But there are many Funcinpecs, which one will it be?"

The BLDP, which earned 10 seats in the Assembly in 1993, has split in two and it

is unclear whether the "opposition" half or the other one aligned with

Hun Sen will choose a councillor.

Assembly Secretary-General Than Sina confirmed the parliament's short-listed candidates

to the Constitutional Council as:

ï Yang Som, 55, a CPP candidate favored by Hun Sen, who has lived in the US for

the last 30 years and has an economics degree. He is a former Molinaka party member

who won a Funcinpec Assembly seat in 1993 only to join the CPP and give up the seat

before the first meeting of the Assembly.

ï Binh Chhin, a CPP Assembly member from Prey Veng where he was once the deputy

governor. He also has a law degree. His nomination was apparently forwarded by Chea

Sim.

ï Top Sam, a CPP nominee forwarded by Hun Sen, who is an undersecretary of commerce

and has an economics degree. He has been involved in commerce for the government

since 1989.

ï Kong Roeun (also known as Lert Wongsanith), CPP, a diplomat during the Sihanouk

regime, who has lived in Japan. He has a PhD.

ï Say Bory, 57, who appears to have been forwarded by Ung Huot or Assembly First

Vice President Loy Sim Chheang. He is a former BLDP member and the current president

of the Cambodian bar association who has expressed an interest in stepping down.

He appears to have a good working relationship with CPP Justice Minister Chem Snguon.

The candidacy list supporting him was signed only by members of the Assembly elected

as Funcinpec or BLDP. He was deputy governor of Siem Reap from 1966-1969. A judicial

adviser to UNTAC on constitutional matters, he is a French citizen.

ï Chea Sophaon, Funcinpec, a French citizen and an adviser to Ranariddh with a

banking background. She is the only woman short-listed.

ï Uk Vithun, Funcinpec candidate with French citizenship who is Secretary of State

for Justice, an adviser to Prince Norodom Ranariddh and a lawyer. He is a former

judge who fled to France in the 1970s.

Three Council members were appointed by the King in 1993; three others to be selected

by the Supreme Council of Magistracy remain unnamed.

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