Without Pardon, Rainsy May Lose Right To Run for Office

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy will lose his right to run for office as well as his lawmaker’s salary un­less he is pardoned by King Nor­o­dom Si­hamoni before mid-March, officials said Tuesday.

The National Assembly and the National Election Committee have threatened to remove Sam Rainsy’s name from the list of parliamentarians if he does not receive a royal pardon within 75 days of his sentencing, officials said.

Sam Rainsy was sentenced in ab­sentia to 18 months in prison on Dec 22 after being found guilty of de­faming Prime Minister Hun Sen and Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Ni­tha said that in order to be a parliamentary candidate, one must first be listed as a voter. Convicted criminals do not have the right to vote in Cambodia, though until the 75 days are up, Sam Rainsy is not con­sider­ed a convicted criminal.

Sam Rainsy must either serve his sentence or receive a pardon in or­der to return to the National As­sem­bly, Tep Nitha said.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, a mem­ber of the assembly’s permanent committee and chairman of the finance and banking commission, said the committee will soon convene in order to curtail Sam Rain­sy’s salary.

“To act according to the law, we must cut his salary. He doesn’t work, so we don’t have to pay him,” Cheam Yeap said, adding that the paycheck would be forwarded to the National Bank.

Som Chandina, Sam Rainsy’s law­­­­yer, said the move was unconstitutional.

But Sam Rainsy Party Acting Pres­ident Kong Korm said the an­nouncement did not come as a surprise.

“It is the same as in Cheam Chan­ny’s case. It happens as we an­­ticipated,” Kong Korm said of the opposition party member who was sentenced to seven years in prison in August for forming a so-called illegal armed force, and has been taken off of the assembly’s payroll.

“The National Assembly leaders’ standing doesn’t protect the lawmakers—they serve the purpose of the government,” Kong Korm said.


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