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Cambodians to Mark Constitution Day on Friday

Phnom Penh: Cambodians mark Constitution Day on Friday. The public holiday is held every year on the 24th of September. It was on that day back in 1993 when the historic document was signed by King Father Norodom Sihanouk. By signing the constitution, he formally established the “Kingdom of Cambodia”.

After a long dark history, Cambodia finally became a constitutional monarchy on 24 September 1993. That was the day that then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk signed the constitution and became King of Cambodia. Under the constitution, the king is head of state, but the elected National Assembly has legislative power. The prime minister is appointed by the king from representatives of the political party with the largest number of seats in the Assembly. Just how important that it is to the Kingdom of Cambodia, has been explained by the Secretary of State at the Office of the Council of Ministers, Keo Remy, who is also the President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee:

“Let me inform you that this constitution is very important because it’s the top of all law in the country. We can’t believe we can build this constitution for the second kingdom. We can say it’s the constitution for the second kingdom because the prior regime in Cambodia was withdrawn by Lon Nol but it came back in the year 1993 with this constitution. It’s almost 30 years now. The constitution we see today is coming from our elite people who sacrificed themselves.”

Known as Marshal Lon Nol, he was a general who served as Prime Minister of Cambodia twice, between 1966 and 1967 and again between 1969 and 1971. He led the military coup of 1970 against Prince Norodom Sihanouk, abolished the monarchy, and established the short-lived Khmer Republic. He was the commander-in-chief of the Khmer National Armed Forces during the Cambodian Civil War. After the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh, he fled to the United States.

Remy also added that after the Paris Peace Agreement in 1991 and the constitution signed in 1993, the human rights situation in Cambodia is so much better:

“If we compare to 1979, Cambodia’s people have only five million. Now we reach almost 16 million which means human rights is being prioritised – the right to live. According to the constitution, human rights are being protected in line with the agreements together with the United Nations. Our Prime Minister Hun Sen gives priority to the peace in the country.”

While Cambodia will commemorate its 28th Constitution Day on Friday, Remy has urged the country’s people and its leaders to respect the constitution which he says has been the result of the blood and sweat sacrificed by Cambodia’s forefathers.

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