Sok An to Respond to Summons in Writing Only

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An will respond to a summons to appear before the National Assembly in writing rather than in person, a spokesman said Wednesday, with an opposition lawmaker saying the move could prompt a bid to impeach Mr. An.

Son Chhay, the opposition CNRP’s chief whip, wrote a letter Friday asking Mr. An, the minister for the Council of Ministers, to appear before the National Assembly today to answer questions about the government’s airport contracts and a directive regarding corruption investigations.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan confirmed Wednesday the letter had been approved by Assembly President Heng Samrin and received by Mr. An’s office, but said Mr. An was abroad and would respond in writing after returning.

“The cabinet of the deputy prime minister reported to me that they already received the letter, and already replied to the National Assembly’s general secretariat that the reply will be made in a written letter,” Mr. Siphan said.

“According to the law, members of the government can reply to lawmakers’ concerns through oral or written statements.”

However, Mr. Chhay said he would not accept a written response from Mr. An.

“They cannot do that, that is not what the letter is asking for. The letter was asking for answers at the National Assembly verbally, and the questions have not been defined,” he said.

“If he refuses to do it, and he decides without my consent to respond in writing, I will not accept. And even though we don’t have any clear procedures on what to do about it, I think it could lead to us asking to impeach.”

Mr. Chhay said the CNRP could bring a motion of censure against Mr. An with 30 of its 55 lawmakers, and that he believed some CPP lawmakers may join a potential vote to impeach Mr. An.

“We could succeed with this if members of the CPP decide Mr. Sok An is not a good minister and needs to be punished,” he said.

Mr. Chhay’s initial letter to Mr. An concerned a lack of transparency around government contracts with the French company Vinci, which operates the country’s international airports, and a directive ordering civil servants to consult with their superiors before cooperating with lawmakers investigating corruption claims.

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