The National Assembly of Cambodia unanimously passed an amendment to the election law on the morning of June 23. The amendment requires all future electoral candidates to have voted, among other legally binding requirements.
According to a National Assembly press release, the amendment was passed with all 111 of the lawmakers who were in attendance expressing their support.
Eight articles were amended, following the defence of the draft document by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng.
“The goal of the amendment is to reform ‘the right to stand as an election candidate’ to promote the values of a multi-party democracy as enshrined in Cambodia’s constitution and to promote the responsibility of politicians who attain their position through democratic elections, both at the national and sub-national level,” explained the press release.
It added that Cambodia adheres to the principles of a multi-party democracy, in which the leaders of the country must be chosen through free and fair elections, as stated in the country’s constitution and laws.
The full contents of the amendment have not been released as of yet.
The amendment came amid a social media campaign by opposition figures, mostly from abroad, who called on their supporters not to vote in the July 23 general election, or to spoil their ballot papers on election day.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, in response, urged relevant bodies to look into amending the election law. He opined that only those who participate in the democratic process by voting should be eligible to stand as future candidates.
“If you fail to vote in the July 23 election, you have no right to stand for a commune council post, a town and district or provincial council post, or as a senator or parliamentarian in 2028,” he said, on June 13.
Speaking to the National Assembly expert commission earlier this week, Sar Kheng said that any Cambodian who has not fulfilled their civic duty at any election organised by the National Election Committee [NEC], or who cannot offer a reasonable explanation for not doing so, should not be regarded as the kind of upstanding citizen who is suited to standing for an official role.