The Cambodian People’s Party’s top election reform negotiator has responded to threats from the opposition that it might consider walking out of the National Assembly if a new National Election Committee cannot be formed.
When asked about the prospect of a renewed opposition boycott of parliament yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin referred to a provision in the July 22 agreement between the two parties that specifies if a new NEC cannot be formed, then the old and much-maligned NEC will continue.
Chhin, speaking after a meeting between the two parties’ working groups that again failed to reach full accord on a new NEC law, said that while talks were “going smoothly” and that the new institution should be created, it was up to the Cambodia National Rescue Party if it wants want to walk out.
On Sunday, CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha warned that his party’s 55 lawmakers would consider leaving the assembly if talks continued to fail.
“What he said is his business. For us, we do not worry at all about what he said,” Chhin said. “No one wants to keep [the old NEC]. [But under] the July 22 agreement that we have already agreed to, we must be careful in making the law, because if the new law cannot be made, [we] will use the old one.
“When we make laws we must do it in a way that will avoid creating deadlock in national institutions.”
Both Chhin and CNRP chief negotiator Kuoy Bunroeun said they hoped that the new NEC law would soon be finalised. They said the drafted law – made up of 66 articles and seven chapters – was still not fully agreed upon and would be reviewed by working groups in one last session next week before leaving Prime Minister Hun Sen and CNRP leader Sam Rainsy to make the final decisions.
Both sides continue to disagree on what qualifications should be required of NEC members, with the ruling party pushing for a ban on anyone who holds multiple citizenships.