NRP founder Norodom Ranariddh has lost his Funcinpec seat.
P rince Norodom Ranariddh and two of his supporters lost their seats in the National Assembly and Senate on December 12, together with their parliamentary immunity.
Ranariddh and Chhim Seak Leng were removed from their seats in the National Assembly, and Prince Norodom Chakrapong from the Senate.
There was no discussion or vote on their removals, but Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, read out a statement of Funcinpec announcing Math Salima, a female member of Funcinpec, and Soth Sothun as replacements for Ranariddh and Seak Leng, both representing Kampong Cham province.
Ranariddh and Seak Leng were not present at the National Assembly session.
Samrin said the pair's dismissal followed the Ministry of Interior's recognition of the Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP).
Seak Leng told the Post on December 13 that his expulsion was of no interest. Chakrapong could not be reached for comment.
According to the law on the Election of Members of the National Assembly, a candidate who resigns from his party automatically loses his or her membership in the National Assembly.
However, Sam Rainsy, leader of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), said his party will propose a change to the law on the election of parliamentarians when his party has the numbers in the National Assembly.
"We regret the dismissal of any members of the National Assembly, but there is no choice because we have to respect to the existing law," Rainsy said. "We want to see independence for lawmakers - then they will have real power to work for the people."
Rainsy said that the current law has tightened freedom of expression for parliamentarians, who had to listen to their party leaders rather than the voice of the people.
On October 18 Ranariddh was removed as president of Funcinpec in what Funcinpec founder King Father Norodom called a "coup de parti."
After Funcinpec secretary general Nhiek Bun Chhay took control of the party and committed it to continuing the coalition government with the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP), Ranariddh co-opted the little known Khmer Front Party (KFP), which was reborn on November 16 as the Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP).
On November 12 the NRP issued a statement saying the removal of people from Parliamentary seats or positions should await the court judgment over who has the authority to control Funcinpec.
The statement said the NRP had petitioned the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on October 23 for all action against Funcinpec members loyal to Ranariddh to be postponed.
"The Funcinpec party remains in dispute and under the jurisdiction of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, therefore the National Assembly must postpone the dismissal of Ranariddh and Seak Leng," the statement read.
The NRP cabinet said the dismissal of members of the National Assembly and Senate because they believed in different political programs was against the principles of democracy and against the Constitution.
Ok Socheat, Ranariddh's adviser in charge of public affairs, said Funcinpec, backed by the CPP, has been intimidating parliamentarians, senators and government officials with threats of dismissal if they defect to the NRP.
He said Prince Norodom Sirivudh and Princess Norodom Vacheara were under threat of dismissal because of their sympathies for Ranariddh.
Ranariddh's cabinet has appealed to civil society, the international community, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union to help guarantee the freedom of Cambodian parliamentarians.