Cheam Yeap, a senior lawmaker from the ruling CPP, said Sunday that he has formally requested the Ministry of Interior to take action against opposition lawmakers-elect who continue to use what he described as “invalid” National Assembly license plates, which were issued during the last electoral term 2008 to 2013.
The opposition CNRP is boycotting parliament and the 55 parliamentary seats it won at last year’s election since the contested convening of the National Assembly in September, which has seen only the ruling CPP’s 68 lawmakers take their seats.
The CNRP’s leaders allege widespread irregularities and fraud on election day in July 2013, and have called for an investigation into the vote—or a fresh election—before they take their seats.
Previously, the CPP has warned that the CNRP risks losing their parliamentary seats if they do not end their boycott.
Now, the resurgent opposition party risks losing their vehicles, Mr. Yeap said, adding that the continued use by the CNRP of National Assembly-branded plates issued during the last mandate is illegal.
“The number plates used in the fourth mandate are not valid anymore,” Mr. Yeap said, adding that it was the Ministry of Interior’s responsibility to ensure that the CNRP no longer used old license plates.
The only way the CNRP can get new license plates, Mr. Yeap said, was to end their boycott and join Parliament.
“In each mandate, there are 123 number plates that have to be issued—from 001 to number 123,” Mr. Yeap said.
“Sixty-eight lawmakers have already taken their license plates…. If the CNRP wants the number plates, the 55 [boycotting opposition lawmakers-elect] have to come and swear-in at the National Assembly.”
The CNRP’s two constituent parties, the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party, which joined together to form a united opposition in July 2012, won a collective 29 seats at the 2008 election, giving about half the party’s current lawmakers-elect access to official National Assembly license plates.
Mr. Yeap said that many CNRP members continue to be seen driving cars with their old National Assembly plates—thus deriving an undue sense of legitimacy—to the various public events the party holds.
“It is no longer acceptable. Please stop using the number plates,” he said.
General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said that a letter had been received last week, and that the request to revoke the CNRP’s official parliamentary license plates would be carried out.
“We have to follow the law regardless of whoever it is,” Gen. Sopheak said, without elaborating on how the law would be enforced.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who was elected to the National Assembly at the 2008 election but was not allowed to run in last year’s vote, declined to say whether he would instruct his members to remove their old license plates voluntarily.
“I don’t take this to be serious. I think this is trivial…[and] I’m too busy doing other things” to comment on Mr. Yeap’s request, Mr. Rainsy said.
The use of state license plates by political parties was last an issue during the 2008 and 2013 national election campaigns, with the opposition both times accusing CPP members of illegally using state vehicles for partisan campaigning, particularly on behalf of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s long-ruling CPP.