A full vote of the National Assembly is likely to have to be held on any bid to
oust maverick Funcinpec MP Sam Rainsy from his seat, politicians and legal
There is no provision for expulsion of MPs in the
constitution or the United Nations electoral law in Cambodia, so a vote is
widely seen as the only way to put any legitimacy at all on such a
An attempt to expel Rainsy is widely expected among the party's
MPs, but is predicted to take some time.
"I'm 80 percent sure about
Rainsy losing his seat," said one MP, who would not be named. "The process is
going in that direction."
He believed a vote of the National Assembly,
but not necessarily of a two-thirds majority, would be needed to justify the
But he said that, before such a vote could be held, the
National Assembly's permanent committee would have to decide on an agenda to put
Rainsy's position up for debate by MPs.
"It takes time to draft a
strategy to expel Rainsy, otherwise there will be a big explosion," he said
Rainsy earlier this month went public with
complaints that Funcinpec's leadership was plotting to have him expelled from
the National Assembly.
He said Funcinpec president Prince Norodom
Ranariddh had written to National Assembly Chairman Chea Sim about the
Funcinpec and parliament sources were unable to confirm the
existence of the letter last week. Chea Sim is overseas, as is Funcinpec
Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh.
But Funcinpec MPs believe
Rainsy's relations with the party leadership, most particularly Ranariddh, are
beyond repair and an expulsion bid is almost certain.
"There cannot be
any compromise between Prince Ranariddh and Rainsy. Their differences have
reached a saturation point," said one MP.
"We all play the game of
democracy. But Rainsy is driving a sports car, while the rest are still using
motor-taxis," said another.
Sources said that even some Cambodian
People's Party (CPP) MPs were sympathizers of Rainsy's, but considered that his
outspoken methods went too far.
Rainsy - who has been a constant critic
of government policy even while he was Minister of Finance - is considered by
some to have gone too far with his recent decision to sue Ranariddh for comments
made in France.
One MP believed that Funcinpec had ample pretexts to
remove Rainsy from the assembly.
"The people voted for the party, but
not for me. The candidacy of an MP was proposed by the party. If they want to
send him [Rainsy] out of this building, they can find all excuses to do so.
Nothing is impossible," he said.
Legal observers, however, maintain there
is no lawful basis for expelling MPs. The UN electoral law provides for only
three ways for an MP to be replaced - if the person resigns, dies or is
physically or mentally incapacitated.
Rainsy's charges that any bid to
remove him would be illegal appeared to get support this month from the chief
author of the UN electoral law, former British MP Reginald Austin.
reply to an open letter by Rainsy to foreign officials and diplomats, Austin
wrote that any bid to expel the MP from the assembly would be "dreadfully
"I feel sure that in light of a proper consideration of the
real long term advantages of open democracy, there will be no unlawful or
unconstitutional action against you, or any other elected member of this
historic Assembly," Austin wrote.
Some observers, however, say the
majority of MPs would vote in favor of Rainsy's expulsion if told to - even if
they did not personally support it.
"If it came to a raising of hands and
Ranariddh, [CPP leader] Hun Sen and Chea Sim want him out, which they do, MPs
will raise their hands," said one close observer of the National Assembly.