Former Sar Kheng Aide Set to Head National Election Committee

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Former Battambang governor Prach Chan will head the National Election Committee, after former chairperson Sik Bun Hok retired due to health reasons. (National Assembly)

Prach Chan, a ruling party lawmaker, former governor of Battambang and Tbong Khmum, and an ex-Interior Ministry official noted as a close aide to Interior Minister Sar Kheng, is set to become head of the National Election Committee.

National Assembly spokesman Leng Penglong said on Wednesday that the ruling CPP had nominated Chan for the NEC spot vacated by outgoing chairman Sik Bun Hok, who is leaving over health issues, and would be considered by the assembly next week.

The NEC is made up of nine members — four selected by the ruling party, four by the opposition, and one independent member. When the country’s main opposition CNRP was controversially dissolved in 2017, three of the four opposition picks, Kuoy Bunroeun, Te Manyrong and Rong Chhun, resigned in protest. They were replaced by politicians from the royalist Funcinpec, minor Cambodian Nationality Party, and an official from the governmental Human Rights Committee.

Chan was noted as a close aide to Interior Minister Kheng in 2001 when he was slated to take over the Battambang governorship. He was an Interior Ministry administration director at the time.

Later, Chan became the first governor of the newly created Tbong Khmum province in 2014.

He was elected to the National Assembly in 2018 and selected to the assembly’s human rights commission, according to the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, an NGO.

CPP spokesperson Sok Eysan said the ruling party had nominated Chan as he had the ability and experience to manage administrative work.

“It is based on the criteria that is stated in the law on the organizing and functioning of the NEC,” Eysan said.

Korn Savang, an official at the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said he had yet to form an opinion on Chan, but the NEC had long-standing concerns over its independence.

“So at this point, we will monitor and check all of it together,” Savang said. “Qualifications are not enough [and] the important thing is the actual practice.”

The NEC chairperson post had two applicants. Aside from Chan, former Preah Vihear governor Kar Lean was also in the running.

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