As the ruling and opposition parties yesterday edged closer to full agreement on a new National Election Committee law, one of the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s favoured candidates for a seat on the nine-member committee said she had removed herself from consideration.
Kem Monovithya, the CNRP’s deputy public affairs head and a daughter of deputy party leader Kem Sokha, said she did not want to be limited by the technical role of an NEC member.
“After considering the pros and cons of being in the NEC, I have decided that I think my time could be better spent for the party and country outside [the NEC]. I have decided not to go through with it,” she told the Post. “There are things that I would like to do that I could not do if I joined the NEC.”
Kuoy Bunroeun – an elected CNRP lawmaker who gave up his parliamentary seat for party leader Sam Rainsy in July – is the only candidate the opposition has confirmed will take one its four assigned spots on the revamped committee.
But high-level party sources have previously confirmed that Monovithya, along with election-reform advocate Koul Panha and Community Legal Education Center director Yeng Virak were “99 per cent” sure to be the CNRP’s other selections.
The Cambodian People’s Party has not revealed any of its four candidates, while Pung Chhiv Kek, the president of rights group Licadho, has yet to confirm that she will be the NEC’s ninth “consensus” candidate.
Panha, who serves as head of Comfrel, yesterday said he would prefer if the political parties were holding a transparent recruitment process with clear criteria rather than “selecting them secretly”.
“Otherwise, the new NEC members will not feel confident that the public has trust in them,” he said.
Working groups from both parties met yesterday to try to finalise the draft NEC law, but remain in disagreement over three points, according to CNRP spokesman Yem Ponharith. These relate to the selection of NEC members, the selection of the committee’s secretary-general and deputy secretary-general positions, along with other decision-making protocols – such as what constitutes a quorum – he said.
A national conference with civil society and the public will be held when the law is drafted, Ponharith said. He added that the NEC would now be responsible for organising the entire national election, including voter registration, as has been lobbied for by election watchdogs. CPP working group member and lawmaker Sik Bun Hok confirmed that yesterday’s meeting failed to reach full accord.
“We agreed on the content, but not some words. These are not big issues,” he said.