Cambodian Opposition Leader Accepted as MP Ahead of Parliament Sitting

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Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks to reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, July 21, 2014.
Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks to reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, July 21, 2014.

Cambodia's election body on Friday accepted opposition leader Sam Rainsy as a lawmaker, paving the way for his party to enter parliament as part of a political settlement with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Following the move, the National Assembly, the country's parliament, announced in a statement that Sam Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), will be confirmed as a legislator at a plenary session on Monday.

In accepting Sam Rainsy's application, the government-appointed National Election Commission (NEC) said that it recognized him as an "elected [MP] and has already dispatched the document on its decision to the National Assembly, to political parties, to the Royal Palace, Senate, and other institutions.”

Sam Rainsy and Hun Sen decided at a meeting Tuesday to break a one-year political impasse following disputed July 2013 elections.

Under the agreement, CNRP lawmakers who were elected in the polls but have boycotted parliament over voting irregularities will take their seats in the legislature while Hun Sen agreed to revamp the NEC, which has long been accused of bias toward the prime minister's Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

An overhaul of the NEC, which had declared the CPP the winner of the elections despite allegations of rigging, was a major sticking point in negotiations between the two parties.

Sam Rainsy was not permitted to stand in elections last year despite being given a royal pardon and allowed to return home from exile in France, where he had lived for four years to avoid a 12-year prison sentence he says was politically motivated.

The NEC, which had refused to reinstate him in the electoral register then, on Friday approved Sam Rainsy’s application to take over a parliamentary seat vacated by an elected CNRP MP, Kuoy Bunroeun, party officials said.


Some CNRP supporters have criticized the agreement reached with Hun Sen, saying he may not keep his side of the bargain—implementing electoral reforms.

A key component of the agreement was that the NEC should comprise nine members—four from the CNRP, four from the CPP and one who will be unanimously chosen by the two parties.

Sam Rainsy on Wednesday defended his party’s decision to forge the political settlement, saying it was in the interest of implementing key electoral reforms and bringing greater freedom to the country.

His deputy Kem Sokha said Friday that the CNRP would hold a meeting with its supporters on Sunday to gauge public feedback on the agreement.

"In the CNRP’s congress, I will lay out or set the goal because right now people seem to be vague about the CNRP,” he said.

Kem Sokha said the "voice of the people" would determine the party's direction.

On Thursday, CNRP and CPP leaders met with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni to brief him on the agreement.

“The King gave us his blessings and wishes for success in our work,” Sam Rainsy said.

Official results of last year's poll gave the CPP 68 seats to 55 for the CNRP—a loss of 22 seats for the ruling party, which had also been deprived of its two-third majority in parliament.

Hun Sen, 61, is Southeast Asia’s longest-ruling leader and has vowed to stay in power until he is 74.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Sum SokRy. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

Comments (6)

khmer kid

from battambang

so these CNRP politicians finally decided to save themselves after winning the fight with their supporters across the country and abroad. again, like many cases in the Cambodian judicial system, the hun sen government is being rewarded with power and legitimacy on a national and international scale, despite the great demand for justice to the massive irregularities to national election. again and again, this kind of criminal behavior is being reward at the expense of the entire country looking for change.

Aug 06, 2014 04:48 PM

Anonymous Reader

CNRP is doing the right things they need the title to be able to help their supporters. They are able, and they can change. GO CNRP!!! GO #7!!!!

Aug 02, 2014 02:54 PM


from KOK

SHAME on RAINSY's and SOKHA's WEAK & SHAKY leadership for selling OUT their souls for a fake prison term of 8 days!!!

Nelson Mandela spent bravely, courageously 20 years in PRISON for the peaceful end of unjust apartheid!

More than HALF of CNRP supporters are betrayed by RAINSY's broken promises.

CNRP could NOT stand and strike even a year with the support of the people!
YET, RAINSY and SOKHA want to portray themselves as the champions and HEROES of DEMOCRATIC reforms???

NOW, they act more like WEAK,SCARY ... and HONORABLE MEN.

[This comment has been edited by RFA Editorial staff per our Terms of Use]

Jul 28, 2014 04:16 PM

Pol Pot

Sure is that Rainsy and the Ex-Khmer Rouge Sen both are power-hungry and power-addicted cons. But they, at least, "talk" together and won't let their stooges murder each other. In nowhere there's such an odd example. Neither in China, nor in Vietnam, nor in Laos, NOT even in Thailand, nor in Russia, nor in Ukraine, nor in Israel/Gaza...
But, as usually, some Khmer expats who live in peaceful European/US safety and cry for intransigence and for irreconcilability. Shame on them.

Jul 28, 2014 08:33 AM

Anonymous Reader

I was on vacation when I come back CNRP had agree to form government with the DOG CPPs. What a disappointment. I cannot believe CNRP fall into the CPP's trap. They sold out the Khmer people wills for CHANGE! When there is a political deadlock in the future, all the DOG CPP have to do is arrest a few CNRP representatives and problem. Not acceptable, not the right way to form a government. If there is any credibility left, CNRP better keep their promises to the Khmer people during the election if their want to earn our trust back!

Jul 28, 2014 06:43 AM

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