Ranariddh Reprieves Keo Remy’s Expulsion

Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh has intervened to prevent lawmaker Keo Remy from being expelled from the party and the National As­sembly, a top party official said on Sunday.

On Thursday, the party’s Disci­plinary Committee met and de­cided to expel Keo Remy, who has vowed to quit Funcinpec once his parliamentary term ends with next July’s national elections.

But on Sunday, Prince Ranar­iddh rejected the decision, saying such a move would weaken the party, according to Khek Vandy, a member of the five-person disciplinary committee.

“First we decided to punish him. But on Sunday morning, Prince Ranariddh said that he doesn’t want to expel Keo Remy,” Khek Vandy said.

“There is no benefit if we expel him—he is a key member. If we fire him, we only lose,” he said. Despite the committee’s earlier expulsion decision, “I am very happy that he wasn’t fired,” Khek Vandy said.

Keo Remy said on Sunday that he had not yet been informed of his fate and was waiting to be summoned by Prince Ranariddh.

He did, however, make preemptive inquiries regarding “revocation of the parliamentary mandate” to the Inter-Parlia­mentary Union, a Geneva-based lawmakers’ group that has more than 100 member nations, including Cambodia.

Whenever Cambodian lawmakers have been ousted from their party, they have lost their seats in parliament as well—a move the union says is illegal.

“The IPU has consistently pointed out that there is no basis in Cambodian law for revoking the parliamentary mandate of members of parliament on the grounds that their party has expelled them,” union Secretary-General Anders Johnsson wrote in an e-mail reply to Keo Remy.

Were Keo Remy to be expelled from Funcinpec and lose his Assembly seat, “there is no doubt that the IPU and its Human Rights Committee would adopt the same position,” Johnsson wrote.

The union has examined the case of Sam Rainsy—expelled from Funcinpec and the Assem­bly in 1994—and the collective case of Chhang Song, Pou Savath and Phay Siphan, fired from the CPP and the Senate last December.

In all cases, the lawmakers were fired because they ex­pressed views contrary to those of their party. The government reasoned that since they were elected on party tickets, their mandate ended when they lost the support of their party.

But the IPU says the centerpiece of representative democracy is at stake—elected officials’ right to speak their minds on behalf of their constituents.

During the August visit of outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robin­son, she reportedly urged Prince Ranariddh not to fire Keo Remy for this reason. At that time, Keo Remy’s position was threatened because he had allegedly showed “disrespect” to Prince Ranariddh in a remark published in The Cambodia Daily.

This time, the party has been debating what to do with Keo Remy since he announced on  Nov 1 that he would leave Fun­cinpec when his term ended because the party had become too weak.

Several workers’ unions have sent letters to the prince in support of Keo Remy, who they say is their chief ally in the legislature. The petitioners include the Cam­bodian Construction Work­ers’ Great Union Feder­ation, the Cam­bodian Farmers’ Indepen­dent Assoc­iation, the Free Trade Union of the Kingdom of Cam­bodia and the Students’ Demo­cratic Movement.


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