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Election watchdogs warn of the dangers of single-party rule

Election watchdogs warn of the dangers of single-party rule

Civil society groups say democracy could be endangered by the dominance of the ruling CPP following its landslide election win

ELECTION monitoring groups have expressed concern over the declining influence of opposition parties in the National Assembly, saying it could snuff out dissent against the newly-elected government.

Monitors Comfrel and Nicfec said without the involvement of opposition officials in the Assembly's nine special commissions, the present mandate is likely to witness de facto single-party rule by the Cambodian People's Party.

No checks and balances

Mar Sophal, head of the monitoring unit at Comfrel, said that the political landscape had changed due to the declining influence of the opposition.

Even though the Sam Rainsy Party has increased its Assembly representation compared with previous mandates, the influence of the opposition has been declining steadily, he said.

"The CPP has reduced the influence of the SRP since before the elections, and... the SRP has lost all its posts of deputy chairman and chairman of the NA commissions," he said. "We are concerned that the single party rules both the executive and legislative branches."

Puthea Hang, executive director of Nicfec, said the 50-plus-one majority formula had increased the decision-making power of the CPP in relation to adopting new laws and revising laws such as the national budget legislation. "Civil society will continue to watch and encourage the ruling party to guarantee the role of the opposition," he said.

SRP parliamentarian Yim Sovann said SRP lawmakers would work closely with the ruling party to revise the internal regulations of the NA in order to guarantee a participatory role for opposition parties.

"We are waiting to see whether the ruling CPP will make a real political commitment to revise the regulations to guarantee the role of the opposition parties," he said, adding that losing posts in the Assembly commissions would prevent the SRP from having access to information related to the work of the government.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said democracy will remain strong as long as multiple parties sit in Parliament.

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