Twenty-four Funcinpec lawmakers have signed a petition aimed at preventing Prime Minister Hun Sen from stripping Funcinpec lawmaker Princess Norodom Vacheara of her parliamentary immunity.
Hun Sen lawyer Ka Savuth on Monday filed a lawsuit against the princess over comments she made last week in which she accused the premier of defaming her at a Council of Ministers meeting.
In order for the princess to be sued, the National Assembly would first have to vote to remove Princess Vacheara’s immunity from prosecution, an exemption awarded to all lawmakers.
Funcinpec parliamentarian Ok Socheat said 24 signatures have been collected, but more than 30 are required to prevent the motion from being passed. “We need enough signatures of lawmakers to block the movement to have Princess Vacheara’s immunity removed,” he said.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said he and his 15 lawmakers also support the princess, and promised to “absolutely oppose” any attempt to remove her immunity. Sam Rainsy appealed to Funcinpec, and in particular to Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, to protect Princess Vacheara from the prime minister’s action.
“The princess has the right to express herself. If lawmakers have to apologize after they verbally attack each other, there’s no point doing politics,” Sam Rainsy said. “If Hun Sen was in Princess Vacheara’s situation, I would support him. This is a question of principle,” he added.
Also at the Assembly on Tuesday, lawmakers again failed to reach a quorum.