Opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen discussed the possibility of offering amnesty to senior government officials in order to allow for “an honourable exit of the leaders”, Rainsy was quoted as saying to the French newspaper La Libération last week.
Rainsy reportedly said in the article published Friday that the discussion of the proposed amnesty law – which took place on September 16, during negotiations between the parties – had been initiated by Hun Sen, who said he would support such a measure if the opposition put it forward, but did not explicitly agree to leave office.
“It [the amnesty] would have to give guarantees in order to avoid a witch hunt, in order to not threaten [leaders’] fortune, their dignity,” and might include honorary posts, Rainsy was quoted as saying.
The Libération article went on to cite Rainsy as saying he had been asked to prepare an amnesty law for the three senior-most leaders of the government, and that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party would support the amnesty initiative, but would not step down under pressure.
Yesterday, Rainsy declined to comment on the piece, saying the revelations were not meant to be made public, and that while he “might” have made the remarks, it “would not be appropriate at this point” to elaborate on them.
Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker-elect Son Chhay, who was at the September meeting, said yesterday that while he didn’t remember the precise details, he seemed to recall that the idea came from CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha, who made the suggestion “to ensure a kind of trust” to foster compromise.
Though Hun Sen had appeared receptive, Chhay added, the idea soon fell by the wayside.
“On the second day of discussions, we could not reach an agreement … and it was never mentioned again on the second day,” he said.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, who did not attend the September negotiations, said yesterday that he had heard about the idea, but couldn’t remember its provenance.
“If it’s created, it’s a good law, because it’s to protect the most senior leaders,” he said. “As we know, being a leader means doing [things that are] right and wrong.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA