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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Orchestrated end for Sam Rainsy, MP

Orchestrated end for Sam Rainsy, MP

"It's a nice day for a hanging," remarked a spectator in the National Assembly,

but this was to be no showpiece public event.

The victim went to his

'execution' giving the Victory sign, the drama lasted less than three minutes,

and most of the participants raced for the doors the moment the deed was

done.

The final blow to Sam Rainsy, MP - his expulsion from the National

Assembly on June 22 - was delivered with precision, swiftness and a distinct

lack of fanfare.

A good crowd turned out for the occasion but, except for

Rainsy, none of the key players turned up.

There was no sign of Funcinpec

leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh - architect of Rainsy's ousting from both party

and Parliament - National Assembly president Chea Sim or CPP leader Hun

Sen.

But this was no day to be absent for the rest of Cambodia's

Parliamentarians, and the assembly's debating benches were packed with MPs from

all parties.

The public galleries were also full, as journalists,

diplomats, NGO workers and others jostled for a view of the

proceedings.

The action began shortly before 8am when Rainsy arrived at

the assembly, smiling broadly and giving the Victory sign with two

fingers.

He paused once more for the photographers outside the front

doors, before going inside to meet his fate.

MPs were kept waiting for

about 10 minutes before assembly chairmen Loy Sim Chheang and Son Soubert took

their seats, confirming expectations that Chea Sim would not attend.

The

Post understands there was earlier discussion between the three men about who

would formally proclaim Rainsy persona non grata in the National

Assembly.

Chea Sim, according to an aide, was "embarrassed" by the whole

affair and his deputies weren't too keen on taking the limelight

either.

In the end the task fell to Loy Sim Chheang, with Son Soubert at

his elbow, who read a short statement declaring "Mr Nou Saing Khan as a new

Funcinpec deputy for Siem Reap province, replacing Mr Sam Rainsy".

Both

BLDP MP Kem Sokha and Rainsy raised their hands to speak but were ignored by Loy

Sim Chheang, who then adjourned the assembly meeting he had opened just a moment

or two earlier.

There was no chance for debate on Rainsy's removal, nor

on other items such as the controversial draft press law on the day's

agenda.

As the assembly was adjourned, ending perhaps the shortest

Parliamentary session ever held in Cambodia's democratic history, a dozen or so

MPs leapt to their feet to applaud loudly.

They almost immediately headed

for the doors, signaling the start of a mass exodus of MPs.

Sam Rainsy

got to his feet to speak as they moved from the room, some smiling and joking

with each other.

Only a handful - Kem Sokha, Ahmad Yahya, Pol Ham and Ky

Lum Ang - stayed in their seats to listen to Rainsy.

"This is anarchy. Go

and shut off the loudspeaker system," Minister of Agriculture Tao Seng Hour told

an assembly official as he left the building. Inside, Rainsy continued his

speech unabashed - urging MPs to dare to speak their minds and consciences -

while journalists spilled into the debating chamber to hear him

better.

Diplomats, including British Ambassador Paul Reddicliffe, watched

stone-faced from their seats in the public galleries.

By the time Rainsy

had finished, only two MPs, Kem Sokha and Ahmad Yahya remained

present.

Both delivered their own speeches, with a visibly-upset Yahya -

who finds himself dangerously alone as a Funcinpec MP prepared to challenge the

government - earning the applause of some Khmer journalists present.

The

speeches delivered, the tears threatening, the last three of 120 MPs wandered

away.

The most momentous event in the National Assembly's history, like

the first Parliamentary term of Siem Reap representative Sam Rainsy, was over in

record time.

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