A Change of Guard

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Sunday 30 March 2014


29 March 2014
At their summit meeting on 16 September 2013 the two parties agreed to discuss and jointly work out xan electoral reform.
The starting point of any serious electoral reform is related to the electoral commission known in Cambodia as National Election Committee (NEC).
At the latest bilateral talks, the CNRP made a proposal based on recommendations issued by the European Union in 2008 and by the United Nations in 2012, which were intended to make the NEC an independent body (*).
This CNRP’s proposal is to make the NEC a constitutionally mandated institution and to get NEC members elected by a two-third majority at the National Assembly.
The CPP rejected last week that proposal from the CNRP. The latter is now awaiting a counterproposal or any constructive idea from the CPP that would take into account the E.U. and U.N. recommendations (*).
Since January this year the constitutional right to freedom of assembly has been denied to all groups of citizens having any grievances to express. The ruling CPP has therefore imposed a de facto martial law corresponding to an illegal and unconstitutional state of emergency.
Evoking the risk of violence is ludicrous on the part of the Government given the fact that all CNRP-organised demonstrations, with hundreds of thousands of participants, have always been peaceful.
Tomorrow, Sunday 30 March will be a test. While always strictly abiding by the principle of non-violence, the CNRP will hold in the park across from the National Assembly old building a ceremony commemorating the 17th anniversary of the deadly 30 March 1997 grenade attack, followed by a people’s congress to be attended by only a few thousands people. National and international observers are welcome to witness any act of provocation on the part of CPP-controlled forces whose objective would be to create violence so as to have a pretext to further reduce the democratic space in Cambodia.
Sam Rainsy
CNRP President

(*) Regarding the NEC, the E.U. Election Observation Mission issued in 2008 the following recommendation: "The government of Cambodia must take steps to ensure that the NEC operates as a fully independent institution, to enhance its credibility and acceptance among the political parties 
and electorate." Similarly, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Cambodia, Professor Surya Subedi, issued in 2012 the following recommendation: "The National Election Committee (NEC) should be reformed so as to have independent and autonomous status. There should be consensus among the major political parties represented in the parliament on the appointment of the president and members of the NEC and the provincial election committees (PECs)."

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