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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

National Assembly To Unseat Opposition Leader

Exiled Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy talks to Cambodian-American supporters in Falls Church, near Washington, DC on February 24, 3011. He has been sentenced to 12 years in prison and is on a two-day trip in Washington to garner support from the US government.

The National Assembly announced Wednesday it was removing Sam Rainsy from parliament, following the decision by the Supreme Court in February to uphold criminal charges against him.
Sam Rainsy, the main opposition leader in the National Assembly, will no longer hold his representative seat there, the Assembly said in announcing a decision made Tuesday.

The February Supreme Court decision, which upheld Sam Rainsy’s guilty verdict and two-year sentence for racial incitement and the destruction of markers on the Vietnamese border, effectively ended his legal bid to avoid a criminal sentence. He still faces an ongoing legal battle over a charge of disinformation, which carries a 10-year sentence.

In a directive issued Tuesday, National Assembly President Heng Samrin said the decision also meant, “Sam Rainsy must lose all rights and privileges to membership of the National Assembly for Kampong Cham province.”

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann called the move a slide in Cambodian democracy. The party will now work with the government to find a solution, he said, without elaborating.

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said the loss of the opposition’s main party leader would damage the upcoming elections in 2012 and 2013.

The move would hurt the opposition’s access to free and fair elections, he said, especially with its now ousted leader in exile.

Chea Vannath, an independent political analyst, said Wednesday Sam Rainsy’s political life would be hurt in the short term, but she predicted he would eventually be allowed to return under a political solution.
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Indonesia to host Thai-Cambodia border negotiations April 7-8+

JAKARTA, March 16 (AP) - (Kyodo)-;Cambodia and Thailand are expected to resume their bilateral negotiations on a disputed border area on April 7-8 in Indonesia, a Cabinet minister said Wednesday.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said in an interview with the Japanese media that the meeting will take place in Bogor in West Java Province.

"That meeting will be a meeting between Thailand and Cambodia on the border issues, but at the same time, Indonesia will be appropriately engaged as the chairman's statement stated," he added.

The minister referred to the Feb. 22 ASEAN informal ministerial meeting in Jakarta that was held to discuss the border dispute.

Indonesia, as the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, was tasked by the U.N. Security Council to help mediate the border conflict between Cambodia and Thailand.

Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over their rival claims to 4.6 square kilometers of land around a temple on the border.

Since the temple was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2008, several rounds of border clashes have occurred.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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Cambodia sets age limit for foreign husbands

Male foreigners over the age of 50 have been outlawed from marrying Cambodian women in the country under new rules designed to crack down on sham marriages and human trafficking, the government said.

Foreigners who earn less than $2,550 per month are also barred from wedding local women, foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said, but the restrictions do not apply to weddings taking place overseas.

Marriages between old men and young women are "inappropriate", Mr Kuong said, and foreign men who wish to marry nationals must earn a high salary to ensure that "Cambodian women can live a decent life".

"We are preventing fake marriages and human trafficking," he said, adding that the government was aware of cases, documented by rights groups, where Cambodian women were sent into prostitution or "used as slaves" in their husband's home country.

The Cambodian foreign ministry has sent a diplomatic note to all the embassies and consulates in the country informing them of the new regulations, which came into effect on March 1.

Kek Galabru, president of local human rights group Licadho, praised the government's intention to protect Cambodian brides.

But she said the new guidelines "go against Cambodian marriage law and international law" - specifically the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

"This is discrimination against women because they will not be allowed to marry men who are over 50... while Cambodian men can marry any foreign woman they choose," she said.

Cambodia imposed a temporary ban on foreign marriages in 2008 to prevent human trafficking, amid concern over a sharp rise in the number of brokered unions involving South Korean men and poor Cambodian women.

That ban followed an International Organisation for Migration report that said many Cambodian brides suffered abuse after moving to South Korea in marriages hastily arranged by brokers who made large profits.

The restriction was lifted about eight months later after new laws were introduced to prevent women becoming mail-order brides.


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