SRP President Sam Rainsy has asked National Assembly President Heng Samrin to postpone any vote on stripping the opposition leader’s parliamentary immunity pending a possible review of his case by the Constitutional Council.
Eighteen SRP lawmakers wrote to the Constitutional Council on Wednesday to ask that they revisit their August decision to uphold a 10 million riel ($2,500) fine handed to Sam Rainsy by the National Election Committee for insulting the ruling CPP while campaigning ahead of July national election.
In their letter to the Council, the lawmakers assert that the Council’s decision to uphold the fine was unconstitutional because the case is rightfully a criminal matter, which the council has no jurisdiction over.
Sam Rainsy has steadfastly refused to pay the fine and says that he committed no wrong on the campaign trail. The matter has since been sent to the Phnom Penh court, which has asked the National Assembly to revoke Sam Rainsy’s immunity so that the case can proceed.
Sam Rainsy wrote to Heng Samrin Wednesday to request that the Assembly postpone any debate on the immunity issue.
“I have received information that Phnom Penh Municipal Court has requested the National Assembly to strip my parliamentarian immunity in order to charge me for disobeying the Constitutional Council’s decision upholding the National Election Committee’s decision to fine me 10 million riel,” Sam Rainsy wrote. “Therefore, I would like Samdech to be informed of this information and consider waiting to strip my immunity until the Constitutional Council reviews the constitutionality of my case.”
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said that the Assembly’s permanent committee, to which he belongs, will move ahead with its scheduled meeting today, which will include a discussion about Sam Rainsy’s immunity.
“If he pays the fine, we won’t strip his immunity. Stripping his immunity will force him to pay the fine; we are implementing the law,” he said.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha defended the decisions made so far regarding Sam Rainsy’s fine, saying that according to the law, the NEC and Constitutional Council are the bodies that rule on election complaints.
“The election law allows the NEC to make the fines, and the Constitutional Council’s decision is binding,” he said by telephone.