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Assembly ‘does not care about’ Rainsy

The National Assembly will not hold an emergency session to debate whether opposition leader Sam Rainsy can be re-listed as a candidate for Sunday’s election, an official said.

Spokesman Chheang Vun called Rainsy’s Tuesday letter to National Assembly president Heng Samrin a “bother” and said the body was too busy campaigning to hold such a session.

“They do not care about Mr Sam Rainsy. They are thinking of their lawmaker seats; they have all gone to campaign,” he said.

A day after the National Election Committee rejected his letter asking that he be re-listed on the both the voter and candidate rolls, Rainsy called on Samrin to restore his status as a lawmaker and his immunity. In the letter, he argued that the Royal pardon, which overturned an 11-year prison sentence and paved the way for his return last week, effectively voided decisions made in light of his conviction.

Vun suggested Rainsy’s best bet would be to wait until after the elections, then ask a CNRP lawmaker to step down and take his seat. In October, he added, Rainsy can register as a voter.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann declined to address Vun’s suggestions, but stressed that the party still considered the continued rejections to be politically motivated and said that Rainsy yesterday had urged the Constitutional Council to consider the case.

“The CNRP cannot accept injustice in the election. We still have many choices; we are not hopeless. If one way cannot be resolved, we will find another one,” Sovann said. “An election that does not have the opposition party leader taking part is not free or just.”

Hang Puthea, director of election watchdog Nicfec, said the NEC decision appeared to hew to the law, but since Rainsy’s case was ultimately a political one, there should be a political solution.

“If there is a political negotiation, a conciliation may be possible.”



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