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Opposition Decries Decision to Change Rules of Parliament


File Photo: Members of parliament attend a plenary session at the Cambodia National Assembly in Central Phnom Penh December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Channa - RTX1YVKB

The canceled Article 48(3) of the National Assembly’s regulations had stipulated that the leader of the opposition in parliament was on a symbolically equal footing to the prime minister.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party has expressed its regret at the decision by Prime Minister Hun Sen this week to revoke an article in the rules of parliament that effectively ended negotiations between his ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition.

The canceled Article 48(3) of the National Assembly’s regulations had stipulated that the leader of the opposition in parliament was on a symbolically equal footing to the prime minister.

Hun Sen made the move because he said the opposition, led by CNRP deputy leader Kem Sokha, wanted to use the talks to negotiate the release of jailed members and activists.

Chheang Vun, CPP lawmaker and spokesman, spoke to journalists after attending the permanent committee meeting at the National Assembly, in Phnom Penh, January 23, 2017. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)
Chheang Vun, CPP lawmaker and spokesman, spoke to journalists after attending the permanent committee meeting at the National Assembly, in Phnom Penh, January 23, 2017. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)

Cheang Vun, CPP spokesman, said a meeting would be held on January 31 to confirm the article had been rescinded.

“The mechanism is bilateral. If one side is honest and the other side is not, it will not work,” he said.

However, he said negotiations between the parties “could still happen” if the CNRP dropped attempts to free jailed activists, which the CPP views as unconstitutional.

Yem Ponhearith, CNRP lawmaker and spokesman, spoke to journalists after attending the permanent committee meeting at the National Assembly, in Phnom Penh, January 23, 2017. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)
Yem Ponhearith, CNRP lawmaker and spokesman, spoke to journalists after attending the permanent committee meeting at the National Assembly, in Phnom Penh, January 23, 2017. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)

Yem Ponharith, a CNRP lawmaker, said the party “regretted” the decision “because we have tried so much to learn about democracy from the legislative institutions of foreign countries and consult with law experts and specialists”.

Political pundit Kem Sok said the restrictions imposed by the CPP were displays of “factionalism and unilateralism” that showed “the law is no longer practical” and was being manipulated so that the ruling party could “save face”.

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