The Prime Minister of Cambodia is a representative from the ruling party of the National Assembly. He or she is appointed by the King on the recommendation of the President and Vice Presidents of the National Assembly. In order for a person to become Prime Minister, he or she must first be given a vote of confidence by the National Assembly.
The Prime Minister is officially the Head of Government in Cambodia. Upon entry into office, he appoints a Council of Ministers who are responsible to the Prime Minister. Officially, the Prime Minister's duties include chairing meetings of the Council of Ministers (Cambodia's version of a Cabinet) and appointing and leading a government. The Prime Minister and his government make up Cambodia's executive branch of government.
The current Cambodian Prime Minister is Cambodian's People Party (CPP) member [staged a bloody coup in Phnom Penh to overthrow elected Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, president of the FUNCINPEC party.
The official duty of the Parliament is to legislate and make laws. Bills passed by the Parliament are given to the King who gives the proposed bills Royal Assent. The King does not have veto power over bills passed by the National Assembly (the lower house) and, thus, cannot withhold Royal Assent. The National Assembly also has the power to dismiss the Prime Minister and his government by a two-thirds vote of no confidence.
Elections were last held for the Senate in 1999. New elections were supposed to have occurred in 2004, but these elections were initially postponed. On January 22, 2006, 11,352 possible voters went to the poll and chose their candidates. This election was criticized by local monitoring non-governmental organizations as being undemocratic
As of 2006, the Cambodian People's Party holds forty-three seats in the Senate, constituting a significant majority. The two other major parties holding seats in the Senate are the Funcinpec party (holding twelve seats) and the Sam Rainsy Party (holding two seats).
In order to vote in legislative elections, one must be at least eighteen years of age. However, in order to be elected to the Legislature, one must be at least twenty-five years of age.
The National Assembly is led by a President and two Vice Presidents who are selected by Assembly members prior to each session.
As of 2005, the Cambodian People's Party holds a majority of the seats in the National Assembly, controlling seventy-three out of the 123 seats. The Funcinpec party holds twenty-six seats, while the Sam Rainsy Party holds the remaining twenty-four seats.
2003-07-27 National Assembly Elections Results
|Political Parties||# seats won||# valid votes|
|Sam Rainsy Party||24||1,130,423|
2006-01-22 Senate Elections Results
|Political Parties||# seats won||# votes estimated|
|Sam Rainsy Party||2||1,165|
Sources: List of Senators
The main duties of the judiciary are to prosecute criminals, settle lawsuits, and, most importantly, protect the freedoms and rights of Cambodian citizens. However, in reality, the judicial branch in Cambodia is highly corrupt and often serves as a tool of the executive branch to silence civil society and its leaders
From September 24 1993 through October 7 2004, Norodom Sihanouk reigned as King. Under the Constitution, the King has no political power, but as Norodom Sihanouk was revered in the country, his word often carried much influence in the government. For example, in February 2004, he issued a proclamation stating that since Cambodia is a "liberal democracy," the Kingdom should allow gay marriage. While such views aren't prevalent in Cambodia, his word was respected by his subjects. The King, often irritated over the conflicts in his government, several times threatened to abdicate unless the political factions in the government got along. This put pressure on the government to solve their differences. This influence of the King was often used to help mediate differences in government.
After the abdication of King Norodom Sihanouk in 2004, he was succeeded by his son Norodom Sihamoni. While the retired King is highly revered in his country for dedicating his lifetime to Cambodia, the current King has spent most of his life abroad in France. Thus, it remains to be seen whether the new king's views will be as highly respected as his father's.
Although in the Khmer language there are many words meaning "king", the word officially used in Khmer (as found in the 1993 Cambodian Constitution) is preahmâhaksat (Khmer regular script:), which literally means: preah- ("sacred", cognate of the Indian word Brahmin) -mâha- (from Sanskrit, meaning "great", cognate with "maha-" in maharaja) -ksat ("warrior, ruler", cognate of the Indian word Kshatriya).
On the occasion of HM King Norodom Sihanouk's retirement in September 2004, the Cambodian National Assembly coined a new word for the retired king: preahmâhaviraksat (Khmer regular script:), where vira comes from Sanskrit vīra, meaning "brave or eminent man, hero, chief", cognate of Latin vir, viris, English virile. Preahmâhaviraksat is translated in English as "King-Father" (Roi-Père), although the word "father" does not appear in the Khmer noun.
As preahmâhaviraksat, Norodom Sihanouk retains many of the prerogatives he formerly held as preahmâhaksat and is a highly respected and listened-to figure. Thus, in effect, Cambodia can be described as a country with two heads of state: an official one, the preahmâhaksat Norodom Sihamoni, and an unofficial one, the preahmâhaviraksat Norodom Sihanouk.
It has been suggested that Cambodia's ability to peacefully appoint a new King shows that Cambodia's government has stabilized incredibly from the situation the country was in during the 1970s (see History of Cambodia).
Since 2002, commune-level governments (commune councils) have been composed of members directly elected by commune residents every five years.
In practice, the allocation of responsibilities between various levels of government is uncertain. This uncertainty has created additional opportunities for corruption and increased costs for investors.
Sovereignty Matters: Locations of Contestation and Possibility in Indigenous Struggles for Self-Determination.(Book review)
Dec 01, 2006; Sovereignty Matters: Locations of contestation and Possibility in Indigenous Struggles for Self-Determination. Joanne...