Laws underway to take away opposition’s MP seats for redistribution

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) is rewriting political laws with an aim to redistribute the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s 55 parliamentary seats to small parties in the event the opposition party is dissolved, according to The Phnom Penh Post Online on Wednesday.

A set of urgent draft amendments to the Law on Elections of Members of the National Assembly were leaked on CNRP deputy president Eng Chhay;s Facebook page on Tuesday.

The proposed amendments to the election law and three other laws was confirmed by an assembly official.

Under the current law, the CNRP’s empty seats in the National Assembly will be absorbed by the CPP, which would wield absolute control over all 123 seats in the assembly until the July 2018 election. But the proposed amendments will seek to share the seats to parties contested in the previous election, but didn’t win any seat.

The draft entails a modified formula for calculating the allocation of seats. Applying that to the 2013 election results, Funcinpec will take the bulk of the 55 seats with 41, Democracy Party’s six seats, Khmer Anti-Poverty Party’s five, Cambodian Nationality Party’s two and the Khmer Economic Development Party’s one.

CNRP deputy president Mu Sochua who fled the country last week said the CPP’s proposed amendments would “rob democracy at every level.”

“This is a constitutional coup as these seats represent the will of the people that needs to be respected and protected,” said Sochua in her statement.

Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson said the legislative move was a cosmetic change in a bid to save face.

“The CPP knows that having all the 123 MP seats would look particularly unseemly and undermine the efforts to create an illusion for this power grab,” he said, adding “sadly, there is no shortage of political opportunists in Funcinpec and other small parties ready to lend their names and logos in exchange for the perks on offer to join this illegitimate effort.”