Ranariddh To Meet Opposition Lawmaker

National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said on Friday he will accept opposition lawmaker Son Chhay’s re­quest to meet this week to try to re­­­­solve the ongoing dispute be­tween their two political parties.

“I agree to meet Excellency Son Chhay,” Prince Ranariddh told re­porters outside the As­sembly. But the prince, who is al­so head of Fun­­cinpec, added that he is pow­er­less to free jailed op­po­sition lawmaker Cheam Chan­ny, who was stripped of his parliamentary im­mu­nity on Feb 3 and sub­se­quent­ly ar­res­ted on suspicion of forming an illegal armed force.

“I am not able to have Cheam Channy released or on probation,” Prince Ranariddh said.

“What I am able to do in the case of Cheam Channy is to forward the request of Sam Rainsy Par­ty lawmakers [for his release] to the court. It should depend on the court’s decision then,” he said.

Son Chhay said Friday he hoped to meet with the prince “to end all the disputes.”

The Sam Rainsy Party and Fun­­cinpec have launched several lawsuits against each other since the formation of the current government in July.

The opposition accuses Prince Ranariddh of being involved in corruption over the construction of a new Assembly building. Mean­­­while, opposition leader Sam Rain­sy and his fellow lawmaker Chea Poch—both of whom were al­so stripped of their par­liament­ary immunity Feb 3—stand ac­cused of defaming the prince for charging that he took bribes to form a coalition with the CPP.

Since the three opposition lawmakers were stripped of parliamentary protection, the Sam Rain­­sy Party has boycotted all As­sembly and Senate meetings.

Despite Prince Ranariddh’s claim that he cannot interfere with Cheam Channy’s case, Son Chhay said Sunday that he will ne­vertheless try to negotiate for the lawmaker’s release in ex­change for the opposition party’s end to their boycott.

At the military court on Sun­day, court director Ney Thol main­tained Cheam Channy must re­­main in detention pending trial.

“It is a criminal case, so we cannot release him on bail,” he said, adding: “This case is difficult be­cause they are all lawmakers.”

Funcinpec lawmaker Khieu San said Sunday that Prince Ran­ar­iddh and Son Chhay are ex­pec­ted to meet today.

 

© 2005 – 2013, All rights reserved.