Sam Rainsy, Running Out of Options, Pays His NEC Fine

After months of refusing to do so, SRP President Sam Rainsy on Fri­day paid a 10 million riel fine im­posed on him by the National Elec­tion Com­mittee in August, prompting the NEC to request that its lawsuit against the opposition leader be dropped.

The approximately $2,500 fine was paid the day after the standing committee of the National Assem­bly voted in favor of stripping Sam Rainsy’s parliamentary immunity so that the Phnom Penh court could move forward with legal proceedings against the opposition leader.

But with the fine paid in full, NEC President Im Suosdey on Friday wrote to the Phnom Penh Munic­i­pal Court to drop the case.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Ny­tha said Sunday that the NEC has not yet heard back from the court regarding its arrest.

The NEC had imposed the fine on Sam Rainsy because the SRP leader had reportedly insulted the ruling CPP while on the campaign trail ahead of the July national election.                         Sam Rainsy said by telephone Sun­day that he paid the fine be­cause he realized he was running out of options.

“I didn’t accept the NEC’s decision; I had no choice,” he said.

On Friday, with the fine paid, Sam Rainsy wrote to National Assembly President Heng Samrin to drop the matter of suspending Sam Rainsy’s immunity.

In his letter to Heng Samrin, Sam Rainsy noted that the NEC had already asked for the case to be dropped. “[P]lease Samdech Presi­dent, consider organizing procedures in order to restore my parliamentarian immunity,” he wrote.

The current status of Sam Rain­sy’s parliamentary immunity is un­certain, with members of the As­sembly’s standing committee saying that his immunity was stripped by a standing committee vote. However, the Con­stitution says that a two-thirds-majority vote of the entire Assembly is needed to remove a lawmaker’s immunity.

Assembly First Vice President Nguon Nhel said Sunday that he didn’t know when the National Assembly might restore Sam Rain­sy’s immunity.

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