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Ruling Party Considers Removing Opposition’s Assembly Seats

Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni (in middle) in group photo with ruling members of National Assembly on first session, file photo. (Photo: VOA Khmer)
Lawmakers of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party are discussing legal means to remove 55 opposition legislators from their seats in the National Assembly, as an opposition boycott of parliament continues following July elections.

Cheam Yiep, a senior ruling party lawmaker, said no decision has been made, but a change to election laws is a possibility to prevent further political deadlocks.

A “request” must be made by the president of the National Assembly to the National Election Committee, he said. “Until now, it’s just a discussion between us,” he said.

Official election results gave 68 of 123 seats to the CPP, with the remainder to the opposition. But the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has boycotted the new government, saying they lost the election due to irregularities and fraud.

That deadlock has been a “lesson” and is driving the consideration, Cheam Yiep said. “We have to have a law to overcome a kind of difficulty, and I will propose an amendment to the electoral law.”

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said his institution will “follow the law” if a request is sent.

But opposition officials say a law that allows lawmakers to be removed from their elected seats would further erode Cambodia’s democratic process.

Rescue Party lawmaker Mu Sochua said only elected officials can resign their seats, any attempt to remove the 55 seats would be unlawful.

“That’s removed from democracy,” she said. “And if it is so, it will incite even stronger protests and cause even deeper political crisis. They must consider this.”