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Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

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Sam Rainsy smiles as he sits in a car travelling towards the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh in 2014. TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP

Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker.

A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release shows.

The 139th meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is being held from October 14-18 in Switzerland with the topic Parliamentary leadership in promoting peace and development in the age of innovation and technological change.

A Cambodian delegation led by Khuon Sodary, Second Deputy President of the National Assembly, and which includes ruling Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Chheang Vun, has been attending the 203rd Governing Council meeting and the 139th General Assembly, said a National Assembly press release on Monday.

Chheang Vun could not be reached for comment as of press time on Monday, but according to the National Assembly’s press release, Sodary is due to deliver a speech at the meeting.

At the 10th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership meeting held at the European Parliament in the Belgian capital, Brussels, from September 27-28, which focused on environmental issues facing Asia and Europe, a Cambodian delegation featuring Vun “chased out” former opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua after she attempted to greet him.

Vun acknowledged he had insisted Sochua leave after stating that the government delegation was the only legitimate Cambodian representative at such an international meeting, while the former deputy president of the CNRP expressed “regret” at the confrontation.

The former CNRP president, and currently president of the Cambodia National Rescue Movement, Rainsy will also be present at the meeting. He is expected to give a speech in front of international delegations on Thursday, former CNRP officials said.

Rainsy did not respond to a request for comment by The Post on Monday, but Long Bota, a former CNRP lawmaker, said from Paris that he had indeed been invited to attend the influential body.

Bota said: “[Rainsy] is invited . . . He will not let Hun Sen’s regime face the international community unchallenged. He will attend.” He expected Vun would not be able to “chase out” Rainsy as he had Sochua.

Thierry Buth, who is close to Rainsy, said the IPU has informed him to immediately report any improper conduct towards him.

Buth wrote on Facebook: “In Geneva, the president of the IPU told Sam Rainsy that if Cheang Vun acts improperly towards him as he did towards Mu Sokhua recently then please Mr President Sam Rainy report it immediately.”
He added: “I hope that Chheang Vun will have some decency.”

‘She acts foolishly’

Sochua said after going public with details of the events in Brussels: “I am deeply disappointed because I greeted the delegation of Cambodia and His Excellency Chheang Vun as we are all Cambodians. I am very disappointed that Chheang Vun did not greet me.

“He asked me what right I had to enter the European Parliament as they were the legitimate representatives of Cambodia,” she said.

Contacted previously by The Post, Vun admitted he had chased Sochua out of the meeting.

He said that, as he considered his delegation the only official representatives of Cambodia after being invited to attend, it was his right to do so.

“She even wanted to sit at Cambodia’s seat. When I asked her what she was doing there, she replied that she had come to greet me. I said: ‘I do not accept that. There is only one representative of Cambodia’s parliament here.

“Is she a lawmaker? She is a rebel. What right does she have to attend? She has no right and acts foolishly and crazily like this. We cannot accept these people,” he said.

The meeting of the IPU Governing Council is due to focus on the review of the body’s membership and financial status, report on its activities, as well as on IPU meetings that have been organised as part of its strategic plan 2017-2021, a press release said.