Thursday, 17 March 2011

Cambodian parliament expels opposition leader

via CAAI

Mar 16, 2011

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's parliament has expelled the leader of the opposition, Sam Rainsy, two weeks after the Supreme Court upheld a jail term against him for uprooting markers along the Vietnamese border.

Veteran opposition politician Son Chhay said parliament's permanent standing committee, which is comprised of lawmakers from the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP), had issued the decision.

Son Chhay said previous expulsions of parliamentarians who fell foul of the ruling party had been resolved through political compromise.

'But the situation today is different - the CPP controls all state institutions and it seems they are moving the country back to the authoritarian system which requires no need to compromise,' he said.

Son Chhay said the standing committee's decision could not be appealed, adding that the only hope was to petition the king.

Sam Rainsy, who heads the Sam Rainsy Party, which is the largest opposition party, currently lives in self-imposed exile in France.

Earlier this month the Supreme Court upheld a two-year sentence against Sam Rainsy in a case over border posts that demarcate the country's boundary with Vietnam. Last year he was convicted by a lower court of racial incitement and damaging public property after he uprooted several markers.

The incident riled Hanoi, which is a close ally of Prime Minister Hun Sen's government. Vietnam has significant interests in agribusiness, aviation, telecommunications and banking in Cambodia.

The SRP had charged that land rights of Cambodian farmers in the area were not being respected by an ongoing demarcation process along the 1,270-kilometre border, which is scheduled to be completed by 2012.

The opposition claims the case against Sam Rainsy was political in a bid to keep him out of the country ahead of local elections in 2012 and a general election the following year.

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