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Cablegate: Cambodia: Cpp Central Committee Member Cheam Yeap

VZCZCXRO8523
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0763/01 2531224
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 091224Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 4066

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PHNOM PENH 000763

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MLS, P, D, AND DRL
HANOI FOR D STAFF

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/09/2018
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PREL PHUM CB
SUBJECT: CAMBODIA: CPP CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEMBER CHEAM YEAP
ON GOVERNMENT FORMATION NEXT STEPS

Classified By: ACTING DCM GREG LAWLESS FOR REASONS 1.4 (B, D)

1. (C) Summary: During a meeting with A/DCM, CPP Central
Committee Permanent Committee Member and Cambodian National
Assembly Permanent Committee Member Cheam Yeap stated that
the CPP has enough legal documents to "easily" show that it
has legitimately won 90 National Assembly seats in the July
27 elections. He said that a 50 percent plus one quorum (63
seats) is required to hold the first parliamentary session on
September 24, and based this assertion on the 2006
Constitutional amendment changing the National Assembly
majority from two-thirds to 50 percent plus one. He
indicated that SRP and HRP participation in the September 24
opening session is not necessary for the session to proceed
because the CPP, FUNCINPEC, and NRP together hold 94 seats.
In describing the plan for the opening session, Cheam Yeap
explained that after the King conducts a swearing-in ceremony
for MPs, the MPs are led in a vote for National Assembly
president, vice presidents, and committee chairs who require
an absolute majority vote. Afterwards, MPs vote on committee
members either by a package vote or through "normal
procedures" -- either way also requiring an absolute
majority. Cheam Yeap indicated he believed that FUNCINPEC
MPs may be voted in as committee members, possibly as deputy
committee chairs of four committees. He also stated that the
CPP has not been reaching out to the opposition to encourage
their elected MPs to attend opening session activities. End
Summary.

Cheam Yeap on the Legitimacy of the New Government
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. (C) Acting Deputy Chief of Mission heard from National
Assembly Permanent Committee Member and Permanent Committee
Member of the CPP Central Committee Cheam Yeap on September 9
that the CPP won 90 seats in the July 27 National Assembly
elections, and has enough legal documents to easily show the
legitimacy of the election result. He stated that while two
political parties -- SRP and HRP -- have not accepted the
results of the elections, international observers and
domestic NGOs and political party agents' monitoring of the
election process would have made it difficult to have
"cheated" ballots. He stated that FUNCINPEC and NRP, which
each won two seats in the general elections, have accepted
the election results and agreed to form a government and
attend the September 24 National Assembly opening session.
Parliamentarian Cheam Yeap has been a CPP Central Committee
member since 1992. He was first elected as a CPP National
Assembly member representing Prey Veng province in Cambodia's
first national elections in 1993, and as a member of the
National Assembly permanent committee that same year.

3. (C) According to Cheam Yeap, in order to form a
government and hold a first parliamentary session, a 50
percent plus one quorum of the National Assembly's 123
members is required to be present, totaling 63 seats. He
based his assertion on the 2006 Constitutional amendment that
reduces the number of lawmakers needed to form a government
and reach quorum at parliamentary sessions from two-thirds to
50 percent plus one.

National Assembly Opening Day Plans
-----------------------------------

4. (C) Cheam Yeap stated that after the King swears in
parliamentarians on September 24, MPs will return to the
National Assembly building where they are expected to vote
for the National Assembly President, Vice Presidents, and
Committee Chairs as well as the new Prime Minister and the
PM's slated cabinet. The National Assembly President will
then inform the parliament that there will be elections for
committee members. While not stating so directly, Cheam Yeap
indicated that there may be a "package" vote for all of these
positions. Either way, a 50 percent plus one majority will
be required. Regarding attendance at the opening session,
Cheam Yeap said that while the King invites all 123 elected
members to the opening session and certifies them as duly
elected, it is the prerogative of each elected member to
accept or decline the invitation. Cheam Yeap stated his
belief that at least 90 percent of CPP members will be
present on September 24. He indicated there is no
constitutional requirement for at least 120 members to be
present in order for the first National Assembly session to
be deemed valid, as some critics have averred. This is a
murky point on which the constitution is silent, and which
the SRP is exploiting in its threatened boycott. (COMMENT:
CPP appears confident that the King's proclamation of all 123
members satisfies the statement in the Constitution, Article

PHNOM PENH 00000763 002 OF 002


76, that "The National Assembly has at least 120 members who
are representatives." END COMMENT.)

Committee Formation
-------------------

5. (C) Cheam Yeap affirmed that he did not think the
possible absence of SRP or HRP would delay the vote for
committee members. He stated that CPP has chosen to work
with FUNCINPEC as a government partner, as stated in their
party platform, and suggested that the two FUNCINPEC MPs
might each hold seats in two different committees. He also
stated that Nhiek Bun Chhay would likely be chosen as a
Deputy Prime Minister again. Other parties could submit to
newly named National Assembly President Heng Samrin the list
of their proposed committee assignments.

CPP Not Reaching Out To SRP...
------------------------------

6. (C) Cheam Yeap indicated that SRP and HRP participation
in the September 24 opening session activities are not
necessary for the session to proceed because the CPP,
FUNCINPEC, and NRP together hold 94 seats. He metaphorically
stated that an oxcart requires two oxen to make it move, but
that the SRP and HRP have gone off on their own, away from
the work of pulling along the oxcart. For this reason, and
because Sam Rainsy has been insulting the CPP by calling it
names such as the "thief party," Cheam Yeap stated that the
CPP has not been reaching out to the opposition to encourage
their elected MPs to attend opening session activities.

...But Has an "Open Skies" Policy
---------------------------------

7. (C) Despite his stated dislike for SRP rhetoric, Cheam
Yeap indicated that CPP would be open to discussions with
other parties about participation in the National Assembly
committees. He stated the CPP had an "open skies" policy to
talk with any of the five elected parties. However, he
indicated that not only had CPP not been approached at any
level, but that Sam Rainsy was being inflexible in denouncing
the election and indicating that the SRP-HRP coalition would
boycott the National Assembly opening session.

Comment
-------

8. (C) The National Assembly Permanent Committee has a plan
for conducting the September 24 opening session based on a
quorum of 50 percent plus one members present. If the SRP
and HRP continue with their plans to boycott the opening
ceremony and the session proceeds anyway, the SRP will likely
continue its rhetoric denouncing CPP's illegitimate election
win and subsequent rule. In the meantime, the CPP seems to
be wasting little time in taking the next steps to govern the
country, with or without SRP and HRP playing an opposition
role in parliament. It would appear that, while all nine
National Assembly Committee Chairmanships will go to CPP
members, and up to four Deputy Chair positions would go to
FUNCINPEC, at least a few other Deputy Chair slots could be
open to SRP, if only SRP would make overtures.

9. (C) For Sam Raisy, the political question boils down to
how he best wins support from his mixed constituency of 1.3
million voters in Cambodia and another several hundred
thousand considerably more well-heeled supporters in France,
Australia, the U.S. and Canada. He might serve the former by
promoting SRP as a lesser opposition voice in parliament, but
he may get far more support from the latter by positioning
himself as a strident voice against the CPP, highlighting its
failings, and being seen as a lone voice in the wilderness.
CAMPBELL

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