Incensed by the presence of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, CPP legislators walked out of a meeting of international parliamentarians in Rome yesterday, according to two Italian officials.
“Shortly before the opening of the seventh consultative assembly of Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), the Cambodian delegation objected to their parliamentary colleagues Ram [sic] Rainsy and Saumura Touilong [sic] . . when the pair entered the hall where the meeting was held,” Senator Marco Perduca and parliamentarian Matthew Mecacci wrote in a statement.
The two-day meeting, attended by hundreds of parliamentarians from countries party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, is the “only global gathering of legislators focused solely on the International Criminal Court,” the official program notes.
Speaking by phone from Rome, Rainsy, leader of the newly formed Cambodian National Rescue Party, confirmed the Italian politicians’ account and said the three-person Cambodian delegation, led by Cheang Vun, attempted to pressure the organisers into throwing him out of the meeting because he was not an official member of the delegation.
“[Vun] went to see the president of the Italian National Assembly and vice-president of the Senate [who were hosting] . . . and both told him he was free to leave,” Rainsy said.
“He couldn’t believe his ears. He thought the organisers would give in to this blackmail and ask me to leave the room when he said that if Sam Rainsy did not leave the room, they would leave . . . Cheang Vun did not realise he was on democratic ground; he could not push his agenda.”
International legislators who witnessed the incident were “shocked”, added Rainsy, who claimed the delegation’s accreditation was cancelled after the walkout.
Questions to the PGA were not immediately answered. Calls to senior CPP lawmakers, National Assembly cabinet officials and the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs went unanswered.
To contact the reporter on this story: Abby Seiff at [email protected]
With assistance from Meas Sokchea