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CNRP to boycott National Assembly over lack of safety

CNRP leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha (centre) talk to the media on Tuesday after arriving back in Phnom Penh from abroad.
CNRP leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha (centre) talk to the media on Tuesday after arriving back in Phnom Penh from abroad. Vireak Mai

CNRP to boycott National Assembly over lack of safety

Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders yesterday vowed to boycott the National Assembly unless their members’ safety can be guaranteed following the bashing of two opposition lawmakers outside parliament during a pro-CPP rally last week.

After returning to Cambodia on Tuesday night, CNRP president Sam Rainsy, who had been in Europe, and vice president Kem Sokha, who had visited the injured lawmakers in Thailand, spent yesterday meeting with representatives of three foreign embassies in the capital to discuss the crisis.

According to CNRP spokesman Ou Chanrith, the pair told diplomats, who included the Japanese and British ambassadors and the US charge d’affaires, that the CNRP’s 55 lawmakers would not attend parliamentary sessions until their protection was ensured.

“[The leaders] met with ambassadors to raise the concerns of the Cambodia National Rescue Party around the safety of lawmakers,” Chanrith said, adding the pair was scheduled to meet more diplomats in the coming days.

US Embassy spokesman Jay Raman declined to share details of the conversation.

Responding yesterday, Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan dismissed the CNRP’s fears, classifying the political situation as “normal”.

He said the ruling party was “not worried” about whether the opposition would boycott the next parliamentary session as the CPP could use its majority to pass legislation regardless.

On October 26, CNRP lawmakers Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Sakphea were ripped from separate cars and beaten as they tried to leave the assembly after a plenary session.

The attackers, three of whom were charged yesterday, emerged as thousands of pro-ruling-party protesters calling for Sokha to be removed as the assembly’s vice president had begun to leave.

Sokha’s house was also attacked by a mob shortly afterwards.

Days later, CPP lawmakers stripped Sokha of the vice presidency, accusing him of causing instability by criticising the CPP.

Yesterday, Rainsy affirmed the party would not submit a new candidate for the position, calling the ouster “a bad precedent we cannot endorse”.

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