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PHNOM PENH – Four political parties jointly advocate for amending the election law, the law on political parties and for restructuring the composition of the National Election Committee (NEC).
Candlelight Party, Khmer Will Party, Cambodia Reform Party, and the Grassroots Democratic Party–all of them being political opponents to Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party, though they have a very small representation across the country–on July 11, said they will plan to meet with relevant partners to discuss and urge the government to amend the election law and the law on political parties. They plan to meet with representatives from civil society groups, the NEC, the Interior Ministry and the National Assembly.
They also ask police forces and the court to fulfill their role of neutrality. Finally, they call for a change of the NEC composition, to ensure the impartiality of the committee at all levels, from commune to state.
They offer a new composition of the NEC, with a chairman not being involved in any political party in at least nine years, and four members being independent individuals not being involved in politics. As for now, the NEC is composed of nine members.
These four political parties have found some irregularities during the commune elections which took place on June 5. They received threats for their political activism during the campaign, observed irregularities in the counting of votes and a lack of cooperation from the authorities. In addition, acts of intimidation undermined the freedom of political participation and prevented observers from monitoring the ballot.
They will continue to study the legal procedure to propose amendments to some articles in the above laws. They propose modifications to allow the counting of the vote to be opened to registered candidates, voters and observers, recalling that in some voting stations, the counting was done behind closed doors.
Yang Saing Koma, founder of the Grassroots Democratic Party mentioned that articles 123, 27, 145 and 151 of the new election law and the law on political parties are scheduled to be discussed with the NEC, the National Assembly and relevant ministries.
These articles define the division of seats, the placement of candidates and the political freedom at the grassroot level.
“We want to discuss all the problems that we have found with the relevant institutions. We can solve and reform step by step for the common good,” Yang Saing Koma said during the conference on July 11.
Son Chhay, vice president of the Candlelight Party said that the four political parties and some NGOs have found irregularities during the commune elections.
“We plan to meet the Interior Ministry, the National Assembly and the NEC, and we will follow their instructions,” Son Chhay said.
Cambodia Reform Party Vice President, Ou Chanrath, also urged to amend the current laws and strengthen their implementation.
“Law should be amended step by step until it gets better, because we cannot keep it to serve only one group, it should be for national interest,” he said.
Kong Monika, president of the Khmer Will Party emphasized that he joins in advocacy with the four political parties because he wants to see Cambodia having a real democracy, not only on paper.
Hang Puthea, National Election Committee (NEC) spokesperson responded that this issue is not related to the NEC because the law-making procedure is not under the NEC’s jurisdiction.
“The NEC is not an institution to seek to amend the law or enforce the law. It’s their opinion to propose amendments, but not every request is satisfied, but the relevant institutions can have a look and consider them,” Puthea said.
He recalls that only four parties are calling for amendments to be taken, while 17 political parties participated in the commune elections.
Originally written in Khmer for ThmeyThmey, this story was translated by Sam Sopich for Cambodianess.