Ranariddh Hints at US Support for Opposition

Reacting Wednesday to a recent US Embassy statement calling on the National Assembly to restore the parliamentary im­munity of three opposition lawmakers, National Assembly Pres­ident Prince Norodom Ranariddh suggested the US was supporting an autocratic party.

The US Embassy statement was also critical of the verdict in the Cheam Channy case.

Prince Ranariddh refused to comment on that issue, citing the division of powers in a demo­cracy.

“We again call on the Cam­bodian National Assembly to im­mediately restore the immunity of the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians that was stripped by the National Assembly on Feb 3, an action we strongly condemn­ed,” the US statement read.

“Before the US appeals to the National Assembly, the US should check that the party it de­fends respects democracy and voters,” Prince Ranariddh said.

His retorts came Wednesday morning at Phnom Penh Inter­national Air­port, where he had gone to say good-bye to royal family members before they left on an official state visit to China.

The prince has repeatedly al­leged that the opposition is un­democratic because it ousted outspoken lawmaker Khem Veasna from the party.

Prince Ranariddh added that the US, a “so-called champion of democracy,” should instead call on the Sam Rainsy Party to stop its boycott of the National As­semb­ly.

“People voted for them to work,” he said. “Not to boycott.”

Prince Ranariddh declined to comment on the Cheam Channy case, explaining that in a democracy, the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government should not influence one another.

The US Embassy on Wednes­day afternoon declined to comment on the prince’s comments.

Eng Chhay Eang, secretary general of the Sam Rainsy Party, said the US Embassy was not de­fending the opposition in particular but democracy in general.

He again repeated claims that the law adopted by the CPP and Funcinpec—and not the Sam Rainsy Party—removed Khem Veasna from office.

“If the prince wants to defend lawmakers…he should eliminate the law,” Eng Chhay Eang said.

(Additional reporting by Michael Cowden)



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