Opposition Seeks Ruling on Lawmaker Ousting

Opposition lawmakers who were stripped of their positions in the National Assembly earlier this month have called on the Constitutional Council of Cambodia to investigate the decision made by Parliament.

In a letter dated Wednesday and signed by 14 of the 27 expelled lawmakers, the Constitutional Council—a supreme body tasked with interpreting the Constitution and reviewing work carried out by the National Assembly and Senate—is asked to decide whether or not the June 5 decision made by Parliament’s CPP-dominated permanent committee was lawful.

“We sent the letter yesterday,” said Son Chhay, one of the expelled lawmakers running as a candidate for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in next month’s national election.

“We request that the Constitutional Council urgently review the case to verify that the unconstitutional decision was made by the permanent committee, which froze the salaries and stripped 29 lawmakers of their positions without complying with the basics of the stipulated law,” the letter says.

CNRP leader Sam Rainsy said Tuesday that the move to oust the 27 opposition SRP and Human Rights Party lawmakers and two more from the Norodom Ranariddh Party was “totally illegal because members of the National Assembly are elected by the people and only the people can put an end to their mandate.”

However, the CPP-led body claimed the decision was fair because the election law and internal National Assembly rules prohibit lawmakers from holding membership in two parties at the same time.

The opposition lawmakers want the Constitutional Council to look at article 95 of the Constitution, which states that there must be at least 120 members of Parliament for the National Assembly to be considered constitutional. There are currently only 93 lawmakers.

Constitutional Council Meng deputy secretary-general Kim Ly said he had seen the letter but that work on the opposition’s request would have to wait until after Tuesday when the body holds a vote to decide on a new president. “This schedule was decided 10 days ago, but I will send the letter to the [new] president,” he said, adding that a decision would take about 30 days from the moment the letter is processed.

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