Thursday, 18 September 2008

SRP risks lawsuit for insults

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng and Sheang Sokha
Thursday, 18 September 2008

PM claims opposition slandered Kingdom's highest institutions

PRIME Minister Hun Sen suggested Wednesday that legal action could be taken against opposition lawmakers for insulting the country's top legislative body and members of the ruling Cambodian People's Party.

The threat was made during a speech to about 700 graduating students held at the National Institute of Education.

"I think individual members of the National Assembly will be interested in this," Hun Sen said.

"Will the National Assembly, on behalf of our highest institution, take legal action or not? Removing parliamentary immunity is not difficult."

Hun Sen said the opposition Sam Rainsy Party insulted Chea Sim, chairman of the CPP and the Senate, Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly, and himself during July's national polls.

He referred to the opposition's characterisation of the ruling party as thieves and their implication that the CPP won the election by relying on voters from Vietnam and ‘‘ghost'' voters.

"The CPP still has jurisdiction to file a criminal lawsuit, and it is up to the SRP what they do in the future," Hun Sen said.

He added that a power-sharing arrangement with the opposition would not be possible but that party members would be allowed to serve in the National Assembly if they attended the swearing-in ceremony scheduled for September 24.

Yim Sovann, an opposition parliamentarian, said Hun Sen's threat of legal action did not concern him.

"It is not unusual for Hun Sen to threaten SRP officials," he told the Post Wednesday. "I think this intimidation is designed to make the SRP renounce their plan to boycott. But we will not change our stance.

"Yim Sovann said Hun Sen has used intimidation against the SRP for more than 10 years."We have done nothing wrong," he said. "We are not afraid of losing parliamentary immunity."

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