Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sam Rainsy’s request for immunity rejected

Sam Rainsy’s request for immunity rejected

Sam Rainsy’s request for immunity rejected

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s request to have his parliamentary immunity restored before Sunday’s national election was refused yesterday by the National Assembly permanent committee — which consists wholly of ruling Cambodian People’s Party lawmakers.

“The permanent committee has unanimously decided that because [Rainsy] has become a president of [Cambodia] National Rescue Party — which does not have seats in … parliament — that it cannot restore … immunity,” National Assembly president Heng Samrin wrote in a letter to Rainsy.

The granting of Rainsy’s request could have allowed the pardoned leader to make one final bid to be registered as a candidate.

In June, the same committee stripped opposition lawmakers of their political status, claiming they had broken the law by joining the CNRP after winning their seats as Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party members. Those two parties merged to become the CNRP last year.

Rainsy wrote to Samrin on Tuesday, asking for his immunity to be restored, citing a law that states that “any lawmaker convicted and granted a pardon from the King will have his immunity restored”.

On Monday, the National Election Committee ruled that Rainsy’s name will remain off its lists, meaning he is ineligible to run as a candidate or vote.

Nguon Nhel, first deputy of the National Assembly, said Rainsy had forfeited his immunity by resigning from the SRP.

Rainsy not being allowed stand as a candidate would not affect the legitimacy of the election and observers would still recognise the result, he added.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann disagreed.

“An opposition party president who does not have his name in the voter list and cannot stand as a candidate — how is this election free and just?” he said.

Koul Panha, executive director of election monitor Comfrel, said the committee’s refusal to restore Rainsy’s immunity was contrary to constitutional law.

“The [parliamentary] law contradicts constitutional law. [Constitutionally], refusing to restore [Rainsy’s immunity] is not legal,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh authorities ban march for Human Rights Day

    Phnom Penh authorities have banned a planned march as local NGOs and workers’ unions gear up to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Monday, with a youth group leader saying they would march nonetheless. The UN

  • US Embassy urges reconciliation

    The US has urged Cambodia to restore the independence of the media, drop charges against Kem Sokha and other political prisoners, and end the prohibition of political activity by opposition parties. However, senior government officials see the request, issued by US embassy spokesman Arend C

  • Government deports 235 Chinese scammers

    THE Immigration Department of the Ministry of Interior on Thursday deported 235 Chinese nationals, 35 of whom were female, via the Phnom Penh International Airport for their part in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) online money extortion scam. The deportees were arrested on November 26 over the

  • EU companies voice concern over impact of possible EBA withdrawal

    European companies operating in Cambodia voiced concern over the potential repercussions of removing the Kingdom’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential scheme, as the EU Ambassador to Cambodia, George Edgar, led an EU-organised media trip this week. Speaking in Siem Reap province as part of