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Rainsy "gently" asked to leave before Budget

Rainsy "gently" asked to leave before Budget

MAVERICK MP Sam Rainsy said he was asked "very kindly, very gently... but very

insistently" by Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh not to attend the 1995

Budget vote in the National Assembly.

He confirmed he had decided to be

out of Cambodia - on a trip to Japan - at the time the Budget was to be debated

on Dec 30.

Rainsy also said he was told by his friend Prince Norodom

Sirivudh on Dec 22 - the day after Ranariddh's wife Princess Marie's birthday

party - that Ranariddh said at the party that Rainsy's wife Saumura would soon

be a widow.

Ranariddh has since confirmed his comment as "a joke" and not

intended as a threat.

Rainsy told the Post that, "in the West, I think

people would go to prison for such a statement".

"If it was a joke, it

was not in the best taste.

"When you occupy the top position as a Prime

Minister, it would be inconceivable....in any other country to make this

statement."

He said he did not think Ranariddh's image, inside or outside

Cambodia, would be "enhanced" by the incident.

Rainsy, the former finance

minister who has remained highly critical of the government since his October

sacking, confirmed that Ranariddh had been anxious he not attend the Budget

vote.

The Prime Minister had been concerned that the passing of the

Budget not be delayed, as the National Assembly only had one day to adopt it

before the new year began.

Rainsy, who said Sirivudh relayed Ranariddh's

request to him, agreed to leave because "if I had stayed [for the debate] it

would have been quiet on many aspects of the Budget."

He did not want to

be labeled an "economic saboteur" by the coalition government, as he has in the

past.

He denied he left for Japan, to appeal for food aid to Cambodia,

under threat to his life.

Asked whether he could see a time when he would

leave Cambodia for his safely, he said: "I would never leave the country under

threat. I am an MP elected by the Cambodian people, I have to stay."

He

said he did not take suggestions his life was in danger "too"

seriously.

"But you have to know in Cambodia that everything is possible.

People who occupy top positions think they can do anything... including taking

the lives of other people."

Rainsy said he was ready to force any

situation and that he had ways of defending himself - "legally, I

mean."

Rainsy also said that his opponents realized that any moves to

oust him from the National Assembly would be "a mistake".

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