Won’t pardon self-exiled opposition leader: Cambodian PM

Phnom Penh, Dec 28 (IANS) Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said he will not request King Norodom Sihamoni to grant a pardon to self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy, saying that he will cut his right hand if he does that.

“I declare that if I sign to request a pardon for him, I will cut my right hand and throw it away,” Xinhua cited Hun Sen as saying.

The prime minister said he would not bow to international pressure.

Sam Rainsy, president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, has been in self-imposed exile since mid-November after a Cambodian court issued an arrest warrant for him over a 2011 defamation conviction.

At that time, the court sentenced him to two years in prison over defaming Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, but he has not served his jail term yet.

Hun Sen said he had asked the king to pardon Sam Rainsy, who also holds French citizenship, two times already and would not do it for the third time.

In 2005, the prime minister requested the monarch to grant a pardon to Sam Rainsy, who was sentenced in absentia to 18 months’ imprisonment on the charge of defaming him and then-national assembly president Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

Again in 2013, Hun Sen asked the king to grant clemency to the opposition leader, allowing him to return to Cambodia after spending over three years in self-imposed exile in France.

At that time, he was convicted of incitement and destruction of public property for removing a border pole along Cambodia-Vietnam border.

In his speech on Monday, the prime minister also disclosed that his ruling Cambodian People’s Party will draft a law regulating “one nationality for Cambodian leaders” by next year.

He said the draft law will require the leaders of political parties, constitutional council, senate, national assembly, government, supreme court, auditor-general, and anti-corruption council to hold only Khmer citizenship.

“This will prevent him/her from holding foreign passports to flee (the country) when there are problems,” he said.

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