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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM lashes out at SRP lawmaker

PM lashes out at SRP lawmaker

Hun Sen warns Mu Sochua’s political career may be over

PRIME Minister Hun Sen warned that if the National Assembly votes to strip opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua of her parliamentary immunity, the loss could be permanent, telling a graduation ceremony Wednesday that her political career might be over.

"Lifting immunity is easy. Restoring it, in some cases, is not so easy," the prime minister told new graduates at the Royal School of Administration in Phnom Penh.

"So [Mu Sochua] will not be a parliamentarian forever; her party must replace her with a new person," he said.    

Hun Sen made reference to the upcoming vote by the National Assembly on whether to lift the Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker's immunity, which will allow his defamation case against her to proceed. A decision is expected Friday.

"Immunity is lifted by two-thirds [of the Assembly]. It is restored by two-thirds. Lifting is possible, and restoring is - in some cases - impossible," Hun Sen said, adding that some lawmakers from his party had already said they would not vote to restore her immunity.

The ruling Cambodian People's Party holds more than enough Assembly seats to strip Mu Sochua of her legislative protection.

In response to threats issued Tuesday by union leaders, who said they would organise mass protests if Mu Sochua's immunity was lifted, Hun Sen mockingly encouraged the protests, saying pro-government groups would organise mass rallies in response.

He also warned outspoken NGOs to watch their step, saying that if they spoke too much "nonsense" he would file a complaint with the courts.

Mu Sochua, who sued Hun Sen for defamation, only to be countersued by the prime minister, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

But SRP lawmaker and spokesman, Yim Sovann told the Post that if the Assembly did lift her immunity, it would be an abuse of the Constitution. He vowed the party would not abandon the former minister of women's affairs.

"The Sam Rainsy Party will not find a new person," Yim Sovann said. 

"If a Prime Minister has absolute power and does everything according to his emotions, there will be no democracy."

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