Opposition Walks Out of Assembly in Protest

All 24 elected Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers walked out of a Na­tional Assembly session Thurs­day, protesting Funcinpec and the CPP’s refusal to include their party members in the Assembly’s legislative commissions.

Sam Rainsy led his followers out of the building mid-session af­ter the Assembly’s second deputy president, Nguon Ngel, refused his request to appoint opposition members to the nine parliamentary commissions.

“The Sam Rainsy Party doesn’t have even a regular position in the commissions. The National Assembly should share appropriate positions [with the opposition] according to the democratic pro­cess,” he told the Assembly.

The CPP and Funcinpec’s decision to exclude his party from the commissions, which are responsible for debating and revising draft laws, renders it virtually powerless to change draft laws.

The opposition also has no po­sitions in the coalition government established last month. Tra­dition­ally, commission posts are divided among all parties elected to the As­sembly. However, the CPP’s Nguon Ngel told the Assembly that the opposition party was ex­cluded from the commissions, ac­cording to a protocol agreement between Funcinpec and the CPP.

“We did not kick out the minority, but we respect the overwhelming number of seats” that the two parties won in last year’s national election, Nguon Ngel said.

The Assembly voted in members of all nine commissions during Thursday’s session. Follow­ing a vote on the first commission, which passed despite objection from the opposition, Sam Rainsy gathered his parliamentarians and left the chamber. “In a democracy, it doesn’t mean the majority can always de­cide,” he said. “In Cam­bodia, there is a majority dictatorship. They can reject the minority and some day, they will kill [it].”

The Assembly’s Deputy Secre­tary-General Chan Ven said the Assembly will convene again next week to discuss the ratification of Cambodia’s accession to the World Trade Organization, and the agreement to establish a long-awaited Khmer Rouge tribunal.


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