A senior ruling party lawmaker Thursday denied a claim made by opposition leader Sam Rainsy in a Bangkok newspaper this week that Prime Minister Hun Sen had proposed an amnesty law that would protect senior politicians, including the premier, from prosecution should they step down from their positions.
Cheam Yeap, a senior CPP lawmaker who is also the party’s spokesman, said that he was aware of the proposal for such an amnesty, but claimed the idea of legal immunity was proposed by Mr. Rainsy to Mr. Hun Sen, not the other way around.
“It was Mr. Sam Rainsy who proposed the amnesty law,” Mr. Yeap said.
“He [Sam Rainsy] proposed the law because he wanted change and he claimed that such a law would protect the three leaders,” he said.
In an interview published in The Nation newspaper on Tuesday, Mr. Rainsy said that Mr. Hun Sen had, during negotiations in September, asked for an amnesty law that would provide the prime minister, CPP National Assembly President Heng Samrin, and CPP Senate President Chea Sim immunity from any future prosecution should they step down.
Asked about the CPP’s position on the proposal now, Mr. Yeap said such a law was not necessary but would still be welcomed by his party.
“The three Samdechs [Hun Sen, Chea Sim, Heng Samrin] do not need that law for any protection, but if such a new law is initiated, it would be good too for the safety of the leaders,” Mr. Yeap said.
Contacted by telephone Thursday, Mr. Rainsy reiterated his claim that the idea was the prime minister’s.
Mr. Rainsy said that Mr. Hun Sen spoke at post-election negotiations in September “as if we were his confidants,” which had surprised the CNRP leaders in attendance.
“Hun Sen said that if the opposition made the proposal, and drafted a law to be submitted to the National Assembly, the CPP would support it,” Mr. Rainsy said of the amnesty law.
“[Hun Sen] said it would not be appropriate for the CPP, as the ruling party, to propose such an amnesty law, but that it [such a law] would be appropriate in the context of a comprehensive political arrangement. This was stated clearly,” Mr. Rainsy said.
“Hun Sen said that there should be three amnesties: the president of National Assembly, the president of the Senate, and the prime minister. He did not say their names, he said the positions, and then said the amnesty should be given to the people who fill these roles,” he added.
Such a law would have protected politicians “from prosecution for past crimes and past wrongdoings,” Mr. Rainsy said.
Mr. Yeap said that Mr. Rainsy’s current comments about the amnesty law discussions in September were intended to discredit Mr. Hun Sen, who he said was the legitimate winner of the election.
“Whatever Mr. Rainsy has done or is doing is for political gain, as he just wants to change leaders,” Mr. Yeap said.
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