Former President of the National Election Committee Im Suosdey, once criticised for perceived bias in favour of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, was appointed by the National Assembly yesterday as a member of the Constitutional Council.
Suosdey, who gained the approval of 66 out of 82 lawmakers present, passed the minimum requirement of 62 votes for appointment, the assembly’s Secretary-General Leng Peng Long said yesterday.
“The reason [for this appointment] is because we need to replace Pith Tang Sang, a Constitutional Council member who passed away on April 19,” he said.
The council, composed of one president and eight members, is the institution that interprets laws passed by the National Assembly and ensures the constitution is observed. It also has the right to rule upon disputes concerning the elections of senators and National Assembly members.
According to Peng Long, three applications were received during the application window from April 25 to May 9. However, Suosdey was the only applicant to fulfil all conditions, he said.
In order to be considered, he explained, the applicant needed to have support from at least 13 lawmakers, must not have a criminal record and must possess at least a bachelor’s degree in the fields of economics, administration, diplomacy or law.
According to Peng Long, one applicant did not have sufficient support from lawmakers, while the other did not meet the higher education requirement.Suosdey yesterday expressed confidence in his ability to handle his new role.
“I think I can do it because I have been working 20 to 30 years as a public servant,” he said.
Suosdey is the younger brother of former CPP Education Minister Im Sethy and held the position of deputy chairman of the central committee of the Youth Association of Cambodia – the CPP’s youth wing – from 1980 to 1995, before joining the Interior Ministry.
In 2012, without input from a quarter of its lawmakers, the National Assembly voted to approve seven NEC members and two leaders – including Suosdey – prompting a boycott by 26 opposition party lawmakers.
At that time, Suosdey defended the NEC’s composition despite criticisms by election monitors, one of whom called the appointments “a strategy to ensure the ruling party did well in the 2013 election”.
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