Politics of Cambodia

From Academic Kids

Template:Politics of Cambodia According to the nation's constitution (enacted in 1993), Cambodia is officially a multi-party liberal democracy under a constitutional monarch.

Contents

The Monarchy

Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy--the King reigns but does not rule, similar to Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. The King is officially the Head of State and is the symbol of unity and "eternity" of the nation, as defined by Cambodia's constitution.

From September 24, 1993 through October 7, 2004, the King was Norodom Sihanouk. 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:Missing image
Seihamuni11.png


), 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:Missing image
Sihanouk6.png


), where vira comes from Sanskrit ', meaning "brave or eminent man, hero, chief", cognate of Latin vir, viris, English virile. Preahmâhaviraksat is translated in English as "King-Father" (French: 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.

Succession to the Throne

Unlike most monarchies, Cambodia's monarchy isn't necessarily hereditary and the King is not allowed to select his own heir. Instead, a new King is chosen by a Royal Council of the Throne, consisting of the president of the National Assembly, the Prime Minsiter, the Chiefs of the orders of Mohanikay and Thammayut, and the First and Second Vice-President of the Assembly. The Royal Council meets within a week of the King's death or abdication and selects a new King from a pool of candidates with royal blood.

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 1970's (see History of Cambodia).

The Prime Minister and Council of Ministers

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 Prime Minister of the Cambodian government is Hun Sen, a pro-Vietnamese politician.

The Legislative Branch

The legislative branch of the Cambodian government is made up of a bicameral parliament. The upper house is called the Senate, which has 61 members. Two of these members are appointed by the King, two are elected by the lower house of the government, and the remaining fifty-seven are elected popularly by "functional constituencies." Members in this house serve five year terms.

The lower house of the legislature is called the National Assembly. This house is made up of 122 members, elected by popular vote to serve five year terms.

In order to elected to the Parliament, one must be at least twenty-five years of age.

The National Assembly, before starting a session, must elect leadership in the house, made up of a President and two Vice Presidents.

The official duty of the Parliament is to legislate and make laws. Bills passed by the Parliament are given to the King who gives Royal Assent to the proposed bills. The King does not have veto power over bills passed by the National Assembly, and always signs bills passed by the Assembly. The National Assembly also has the power to dismiss the Prime Minister and his government by a two-thirds vote of no confidence.

The Judicial Branch

The judicial branch runs independent of the rest of the government. The highest court of judicial branch is the Supreme Council of the Magistracy. Other, lower courts also exist. Until 1997, Cambodia didn't have a judicial branch of government despite the nation's Constitution requiring one.

The main duties of the judiciary are to prosecute criminals, settling lawsuits, and, most importantly, protect the freedoms and rights of Cambodian citizens.

The judicial branch is supposed to be independent of the other two branches. However, in reality, the judicial branch in Cambodia is highly corrupt and can be easily pressured from the executive branch.

Other Facts

General Facts

Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Cambodia
conventional short form: Cambodia
local long form: Preahreacheanachakr Kampuchea
local short form: Kampuchea

Data code: CB

Government type: multiparty liberal democracy under a constitutional monarchy established in September 1993

Capital: Phnom Penh

Administrative divisions: Cambodia is divided into 20 provinces (khaet, singular and plural) and 4 municipalities* (krong, singular and plural) it is also divided by District (srok), Communion (khum), Greater districts (khaet) and Sangkat:

Cities (Krong)

Province (Khet)

Note: There may be a new municipality called Pailin

Independence: November 9, 1953 (from France)

National holiday: Independence Day, 9 November (1953)

Constitution: promulgated September 21, 1993

Legal system: primarily a civil law mixture of French-influenced codes from the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) period, royal decrees, and acts of the legislature, with influences of customary law and remnants of communist legal theory; increasing influence of common law in recent years

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: King Norodom Sihamoni (proclaimed October 14, 2004)
head of government: Prime Minister Hun Sen (since 30 November 1998)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch
elections: none; the monarch is chosen by a Royal Throne Council; prime minister appointed by the monarch after a vote of confidence by the National Assembly

Legislative branch: bicameral consists of the National Assembly (122 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) and the Senate (61 seats; two members appointed by the monarch, two elected by the National Assembly, and 57 elected by "functional constituencies"); members serve five-year terms
elections: National Assembly - last held 26 July 1998 (next to be held NA 2003); Senate - last held 2 March 1999 (next to be held NA 2004)
election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - CPP 41%, FUNCINPEC 32%, SRP 14%, other 13%; seats by party - CPP 64, FUNCINPEC 43, SRP 15; Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPP 31, FUNCINPEC 21, SRP 7

Judicial branch: Supreme Council of the Magistracy, provided for in the constitution, was formed in December 1997; a Supreme Court and lower courts exercise judicial authority

Political parties and leaders: Buddhist Liberal Party or BLP Ieng Mouly; Cambodian Pracheachon Party or Cambodian People's Party or CPP Chea Sim; Khmer Citizen Party or KCP Nguon Soeur; National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia or FUNCINPEC Prince Norodom Ranariddh; Sam Rangsi Party or SRP (formerly Khmer Nation Party or KNP) Sam Rangsi

International organization participation: ACCT, AsDB, ASEAN, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), International Monetary Fund, Interpol, IOC, ISO (subscriber), ITU, NAM, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WB, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, WToO, WTrO (applicant)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Roland ENG
chancery: 4500 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011
telephone: [1] (202) 726-7742
FAX: [1] (202) 726-8381

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Charles RAY
embassy: 27 EO Street 240, Phnom Penh
mailing address: Box P, APO AP 96546
telephone: [855] (23) 216-436, 216-438
FAX: [855] (23) 216-811

Flag description: three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (double width), and blue with a white three-towered temple representing Angkor Wat outlined in black in the center of the red band

See also : Cambodia


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Brunei | Cambodia | Indonesia | Laos | Malaysia | Myanmar | Philippines | Singapore | Thailand | Vietnam | Papua New Guinea (Observer)
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