Cambodia’s opposition leader appealed to the ruling party-dominated
parliament yesterday to be reinstated as a lawmaker in his latest
attempt to run against strongman Premier Hun Sen in upcoming elections.
Sam Rainsy was greeted by huge crowds when he returned from
self-imposed exile last week after receiving a surprise royal pardon for
criminal convictions he contends were politically motivated.
But the opposition leader is barred from being a candidate in polls
on July 28 after election authorities on Monday ruled it was too late to
add him to the electoral register.
In a letter to the parliament, Rainsy said his immunity and status as
a lawmaker should be restored “so that I am able to fulfil my duty as
an MP”. He urged the move “in the spirit of Khmer national unity and
The opposition said restoring his status as an MP could allow Rainsy
to contest the election, as the party looks to loosen Hun Sen’s near
three decade grip on power.
“When he becomes a MP, he would be registered in the voter list and
to stand as a candidate” automatically, opposition spokesman Yim Sovann
It was not immediately clear how the bid would be greeted in the
parliament, which is dominated by Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the parliament would examine Rainsy’s request, but he was unable to say when.
Rainsy, seen as the only major challenger to Hun Sen, returned to Cambodia on Friday from exile in France.
The 64-year-old had faced a total of 11 years in jail for various
charges but was pardoned by King Sihamoni earlier this month at Hun
The US has welcomed the pardon and called for Rainsy’s full participation in Sunday’s polls, in sentiments echoed by the UN.