The Sam Rainsy Party is seeking to replace controversial lawmaker Khem Veasna at the National Assembly with Prey Veng province opposition parliamentary candidate Men Mony Rattana, party officials said Wednesday.
In a letter dated Friday, the party’s acting president, Kong Korm, asked National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh to follow the lead of the Constitutional Council, which on Dec 29 ruled that Khem Veasna could not vote as a lawmaker in the upcoming Senate elections.
Khem Veasna retains an opposition seat at the assembly despite having been ousted last year from the party, which accused him of not representing the party’s views and of criticizing monarchies. “Khem Veasna is to lose his status as lawmaker,” Kong Korm wrote, citing the Constitutional Council’s decision.
Kong Korm said Wednesday that he had received no response, but urged parliamentary leaders not to delay the process.
National Assembly Secretary-General Kim San promised that the assembly, which is currently on vacation, would not delay unduly.
Khem Veasna called the Sam Rainsy Party’s request undemocratic and said lawmakers were unable to serve the people when they were bound to their parties.
“The seat is not important because it cannot serve the people,” he said. “I am tired of this role. I won’t appeal…. I lost nothing but a nonsense salary.”
Men Mony Rattana could not be contacted.
Committee for Free and Fair Elections Executive Director Koul Panha said the opposition was legally in the right, but disappointing nonetheless.
“The Sam Rainsy Party should be more mature and democratic. They should be a good role model and respect their representatives, because they are elected by the people,” he said. “We always complain that National Assembly members are too much controlled by the party. If they are independent, the parties should tolerate that.”
International Republican Institute Resident Country Director Alex Sutton said the move makes sense. “He’s an elected official, but his seat was won by the Sam Rainsy Party,” he said.