Vote Near on Sam Rainsy’s Immunity

The National Assembly will vote this week on lifting the parliamentary immunity of Sam Rainsy and two other opposition lawmakers, Assembly President Prince No­rodom Ranariddh told re­port­ers Sunday.

The prince said he had the bless­­ings of Prime Minister Hun Sen to pursue the vote, which could leave the three lawmakers open to pending lawsuits or ar­rest.

“I have no choice but to send the prosecutor’s request to the Na­tional Assembly. This is the proper legal procedure,” Prince Ra­nariddh said.

He said a vote will be taken in an As­sembly session following holidays on Monday and Tues­day to mark the birthday of re­tired King Norodom Si­ha­nouk.

At a separate event Saturday, the prince told reporters: “I have dis­cussed this matter with Prime Minister Hun Sen, and we are of the same mind that the court’s work should not be obstructed.”

Prince Ranariddh has defamation lawsuits pending against Sam Rainsy and parliamentarian Chea Poch. In both cases, the Fun­cin­pec president charges that the two men wrongfully accused him of corruption and taking bribes during post-election negotiations with the CPP.

Hun Sen also has sued Sam Rain­­sy for defamation over comments he made after the January  kil­­ling of union boss Chea Vi­che­a.

A separate case spearheaded by the premier has targeted opposition lawmaker Cheam Channy for allegedly recruiting an illegal army. Cheam Channy is head of a so-called “shadow” Cabinet in the party to monitor RCAF—a practice common among opposition parties in many governments. He is facing possible prosecution in Military Court.

The cases are widely viewed by ob­servers as a concerted attack  on the Sam Rainsy Party. Chea Poch and Cheam Channy both ap­pealed for intervention from the Royal Palace. But even though their letters to King Norodom Sihamoni and his father were forwarded to Hun Sen, the premier said he could not intervene.

Sam Rainsy declined comment on the cases Sunday.

 

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