PHNOM PENH - Opposition lawmakers have begun to collect support in a petition to have 29 lawmakers returned to the National Assembly, after their expulsion earlier this month.
Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the Cambodia National Rescue Party, said they had collected some 7,000 thumbprints—the equivalent of signatures—from Phnom Penh and nearby Kampong Speu province. They expect to collet 20,000, he said.
The expelled lawmakers, from the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties, were ejected from the Assembly after declaring membership in the Rescue Party, a coalition opposition established to compete in the July national elections. Their supporters say lawmakers cannot be expelled from their seats within six months of the end of their term, in this case the July 28 polls.
Yim Sovann said if the petition is ignored, the opposition will call for a “huge demonstration.”
Chheang Vun, a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said there is no law that requires reinstatement of National Assembly members because of a petition. He called the move an effort to create “confusion” in the Assembly. He has said in the past the lawmakers forfeited their seats by registering for a new party.
Nevertheless, political analyst Lao Mong Hay said Tuesday that even though there is no law requiring their reinstatement, the opposition has a right to collect a petition and submit it to the Assembly. However, he said, now that the Assembly is nearly fully led by the ruling party, “the outcome of the petition will be seen as zero.”