Sam Rainsy is no longer a lawmaker.
The decision to strip the opposition leader of his lawmaker status and immunity followed a morning meeting of the National Assembly’s permanent committee that was boycotted by the Cambodia National Rescue Party.
“His Excellency Sam Rainsy has lost the rights, parliamentary privileges and membership as a member of the National Assembly for the Kampong Cham constituency,” Assembly President Heng Samrin said in a statement issued just before lunchtime.
Samrin’s statement cites the Cambodian Constitution as well as provision 83 of the National Assembly’s internal regulations and article 139 of the law on the election of members of the National Assembly.
The decision was taken after consulting with the Ministry of Justice about the CNRP president’s 2011 conviction on defamation and incitement charges, ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Chheang Vun told reporters outside the National Assembly.
The move follows closely on the heels of the creation of a special commission in charge of both making the arrest and quelling any potential protests by CNRP supporters.
The arrest commission, signed into being by Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday, has been divided into two “working groups”, one designated for Phnom Penh and one for Siem Reap, the other potential landing spot for Rainsy.
The commission is led by Interior Ministry secretary of state Em Sam An and National Police commissioner Neth Saveoun.
Immigration Department general director Sok Phal and prisons chief Kuy Bun Sorn will serve as deputy heads.
A CNRP spokesman announced on Sunday that Rainsy would return to face potential arrest on a Korean Airlines flight to Phnom Penh scheduled to land at 10:20pm on Monday. Earlier rumours had the opposition leader flying into Siem Reap, hence the creation of a second task force for that airport.
Rainsy faces a two-year jail sentence related to his 2011 conviction on charges of defamation and incitement for a 2008 speech given at Choeung Ek Genocide Center in which he asserted that Foreign Minister Hor Namhong had run the Khmer Rouge’s Boeung Trabek detention facility.