Opposition figure Sam Rainsy said Friday that he will not return to Cambodia unless Second Prime Minister Hun Sen guarantees that he and his party members will not be arrested in connection with violent incidents in the pre- and post-election period.
Speaking by telephone from Paris, the opponent of Hun Sen claimed parliamentary immunity for the 15 new Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians was virtually worthless, charging that the CPP controls the nation’s judiciary.
He said immunity was stripped of Prince Norodom Sirivudh in 1995 and Prince Norodom Ranariddh in 1997. “Just look at the case of Sirivudh. He was an MP when he was arrested. And Prince Ranariddh too, when proceedings were started against him last year, was an MP. Being a parliamentarian does not protect you from anything. As long as the judiciary remains under the control of the CPP, there are many tricks they can do.”
Both princes were convicted in absentia but later amnestied.
Sam Rainsy said that a letter which Hun Sen released Tuesday addressing security for opposition politicians was not adequate.
He said he will cancel plans to return Tuesday to Phnom Penh —in time for Wednesday’s scheduled National Assembly meeting—if Hun Sen does not give assurances that Sam Rainsy Party members will not be arrested.
“I have doubts about Hun Sen’s intentions,” he said. “I need assurances that there are no charges against SRP members related to the election, the election campaign and the post-election period. If he does not give those assurances, or does not respond, I will not return, and neither will the other 14 [parliamentarians].”
Prak Sokhonn, a top adviser to Hun Sen, was unavailable for comment late Friday.
Sam Rainsy said Hun Sen is the “best-placed person” to respond to his concerns because the second prime minister should have information on investigations of a Sept 24 rocket attack against a CPP convoy in Siem Reap town and a grenade explosion at Hun Sen’s capital residence on Sept 7.
“The second prime minister claims he was the victim, so certainly he knows about the investigations. He should not keep this information secret and then wait until I get to Phnom Penh and start proceedings to arrest me.”
Sam Rainsy also said the Phnom Penh Municipality has rejected his request to hold a religious ceremony Nov 24 in front of the National Assembly. Instead, he said, party supporters will gather at Wat Botum, if he returns as scheduled. “This is a bad omen for the new government,” Sam Rainsy said. “They continue to suppress fundamental liberties, such as freedom of assembly.”
Phnom Penh First Deputy Governor Chea Sophara said the request was denied because his primary responsibility is to ensure security at the National Assembly meeting Wednesday. “If he wants to have a meeting, let him do it at his house or at his party headquarters,” Chea Sophara said Friday.