Vote Still Planned on Lawmakers’ Immunity

Prince Norodom Ranariddh said Wednesday that the National Assembly will still vote on whether to strip two opposition lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity, despite their appeals for royal intervention from King Norodom Sihamoni and retired King Norodom Sihanouk.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court and Military Court prosecutors have requested that Chea Poch and Cheam Channy’s immunity be lifted while they consider charges of defamation and re­cruit­ing an illegal armed force, said Prince Ranariddh, the As­sembly president.

“We will put the request before the National Assembly for ap­proval,” he said.

On Tuesday, King Sihamoni and his father forwarded to Prime Minister Hun Sen separate but identical letters from the two lawmakers, asking for their intervention. The forwarded letters were addressed only to Hun Sen and did not include any request, but their existence could be seen to imply one.

Prince Ranariddh, who is also president of Funcinpec, has filed a def­am­ation suit against Cheam Poch and Sam Rainsy for accusing the prince of accepting bribes from Hun Sen to enter a co­alition government with the CPP.

Hun Sen has accused Cheam Channy of recruiting an illegal armed force. The Military Court is pursuing the charge—which many observers have written off as a misbranding of Cheam Channy’s position at the head of the opposition party’s “shadow” cabinet to the government’s Ministry of Defense.

So far, the Assembly’s Perm­anent Committee has scheduled a review of the immunity of Chea Poch and Cheam Channy for the “earliest appropriate time.”

The two opposition lawmakers said Wednesday they trusted the monarchs’ letters would prevail, and they would retain immunity.

Meanwhile, 34 representatives of Cambodian human rights or­gan­­i­za­­­tions have signed a petition calling for the country’s leaders to cease bickering in honor of King Sihamoni’s coronation.

“We believe that if the Khmer leaders can do so, then the new page of history will emerge from peace and harmony between those leaders, and the peace and harmony will occur among the people,” the petition stated.


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