Sam Rainsy Defends His Warning to King

Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy again defended his warnings of demonstrations against re­tired King Norodom Sihanouk in an open letter Friday, after 60 lawmakers urged he be prose­cu­t­ed for spreading misinformation.

Government leaders have blamed Norodom Sihanouk’s retirement on a letter Sam Rainsy wrote, in which he cautioned that powerful figures would orchestrate unruly protests against the crown upon the monarch’s return to Cambodia and pin the up­heaval on the opposition.

In a message titled “The Exag­gerations of the King’s Idea,” Sam Rainsy argued that his caveat had been a personal missive and therefore should be exempt from political exploitation.

“There are many such letters that I have sent to the King over a period of 30 years. The last letter on Oct 6 was a personal letter that I wrote in French,” Sam Rainsy wrote from self-exile in Paris. “According to the Constitution of 1993, only those letters written in Khmer can be regarded as formal…. In this case, although it was a private letter, it was received by a third person,” he wrote.

Norodom Sihanouk posted the letter on his Web site the day before announcing his retirement.

The written defense went on to say that a world leader as independent and accomplished as Noro­dom Sihanouk would never be so easily swayed on such a weighty decision.“This denigrates the King’s ability and ideas. The King has enough experience to make his own decisions about such things as abdication or retirement,” Sam Rainsy wrote.

Despite National Assembly President Prince Ranarridh’s threats to strip Sam Rainsy of his parliamentary immunity from prosecution, the Interior Ministry appears to have lost interest in the investigation into the charges.

Sok Phal, head of the ministry’s national security department, said last week that the leader had little to worry about. Sam Rainsy Party Senator Ung Bun-Ang said Mon­day that Sam Rainsy will re­turn home Thursday morning.

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