Ranariddh: No Talk for Sam Rainsy Before Court

National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Thur­s­day said he refuses to meet with opposition leader Sam Rainsy to diffuse tensions be­tween the two as long as Sam Rain­sy re­mains in self-imposed exile.

“The meeting can only take place if I go to meet him or he comes to meet me in Cambodia. But I won’t go,” Prince Ranariddh told reporters outside the As­sembly.

“If he wants to meet me, he must come to Cambodia, but first he must go meet the court,” the prince added, referring to his de­famation lawsuit against the opposition leader.

Sam Rainsy fled the country on Feb 3, after the Assembly strip­ped him and two fellow lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity.

The move opened the way for the courts to proceed with several law­suits against them.

Earlier this week, Sam Rainsy wrote a letter to the prince, seeking to renew dialogue, after all 24 Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers de­cided to boycott the Assembly following the controversial Feb 3 session.

“I…have the honor of informing you that I…wish a normalization in the working of our Assembly,” Sam Rainsy wrote from Paris, in a letter dated Tuesday.

“I…am ready to meet you in any place and at any time,” he said.

Sam Rainsy said he wished to dis­cuss, among other things, the end of his party’s boycott of the As­sembly; the possibility of including op­position party members in the dif­ferent parliamentary commissions—from which they have been refused positions; and the fre­eing of opposition lawmaker Cheam Channy, who was jailed on ac­cusations of forming an illegal armed force after the Assembly strip­ped him of his immunity.

Opposition members and rights workers have decried Cheam Channy’s continued detention at the military court, saying it is illegal since he is not a member of the military.

They have also raised concerns about his prison conditions and his health.

Prince Ranariddh said Thurs­day that he has requested better prison conditions for Cheam Channy.

“If Cheam Channy’s health is not good, the government will not ignore it,” he said.

         (Additional reporting by Wency Leung)


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