Opposition Petitions to Regain Assembly Seats

The opposition has asked its supporters to sign a petition that calls on the CPP-led National Assembly to reinstate 27 of its lawmakers who were stripped of their positions earlier this month, or face consequences.

The petition forms, which have been sent to opposition supporters and party members across the country, state that the National Assembly lost legitimacy when it stripped the SRP and Human Rights Party lawmakers of their jobs, and threatens protests if they are not reinstated.

“We demand that our lawmakers are allowed to be on their duty to serve the Cambodian nation as stipulated by the law. In case you do not take action in compliance with our suggestion, we, Cambodian citizens, will hold protests across the country demanding the recognition of our representatives. The current National Assembly is not legitimate,” the petition states.

Mu Sochua, SRP lawmaker and electoral candidate for the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), who was stripped of her National Assembly position along with 26 colleagues, said that she expected more than 10,000 supporters to thumbprint petition papers.

“We have sent the letters out last week [and] we will collect them late this week,” Ms. Sochua said.

Earlier this month, the National Assembly’s permanent committee, which is made up of 12 lawmakers solely from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling CPP, said that the opposition lawmakers were violating the election law by holding membership of two parties at the same time.

Legal experts called the decisions legally questionable, while opposition supporters said the move was politically motivated. The U.S. State Department criticized the expulsion, saying it was in stark contradiction to the spirit of a healthy democratic process, and asked for the lawmakers to be reestablished.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Monday that the U.S. had no knowledge of Cambodian laws, and was therefore in no position to comment on the expulsion. He also said that the petition was useless, even if millions of signatures were garnered.

“If they manage to collect 14.5 million [signatures] with [support of] the USA and The Cambodia Daily…they can still not flout the law,” he said.

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