In a closed door meeting, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday assured the new Chinese ambassador that an opposition boycott would not prevent the National Assembly from sitting, an aide said.
Speaking to reporters at the Peace Palace following a meeting between Hun Sen and Bu Jianguo, Eang Sophalleth, spokesman for the premier, said there were ample safeguards in place to prevent such an an eventuality.
“Samdech Techo Hun Sen said that in the framework of the constitution and relevant laws, they [the CNRP] would not be able to prevent the first convening of the National Assembly or formation of the government,” said Sophalleth.
“It is not necessary to gather 120 members.”
According to the constitution, a quorum of 70 per cent of the members must be present for sessions to be held and the Assembly’s top leadership to be voted in. Opposition supporters have pointed to that article, as well as a second that says parliament is made up of no fewer than 120 members as assurance that the Assembly could not function without their presence. But analysts have noted those rules have been breached in the past.
The premier told Bu that should the party continue its boycott, their seats would be legally divided among the other parties who took part in the election, continued Sophalleth – an analysis of the law that appears to fly in the face of common interpretation. But, Sophalleth said, Hun Sen stressed that the CPP was ready to negotiate and hold talks with the CNRP.
The remarks came a day after Hun Sen proposed a pair of committees – one that would look at the election results, while the other would negotiate power sharing – amid swirling rumours that such a deal had been broached.
“We are not interested [in discussing power sharing],” Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday. “This is the rumour.... We need to find justice for the people whose names were deleted first.”
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said no concrete steps had been taken on either committee, with the NEC ostensibly responsible for the electoral investigation and the onus on the CNRP to respond to Hun Sen’s second overture.
“For this, I don’t hear anything from the [opposition],” Siphan said.
In a meeting with outgoing German Ambassador Wolfgang Moser, Hun Sen said he had heard the NEC was moving ahead with his proposed investigating committee and had called for the participation of the United Nations as well as NGOs and political parties, Sophalleth said.
Reached last night, NEC president Im Suosdey refused to comment on potential UN involvement.
With the deadlock showing no sign of abating, it was incumbent on the CNRP to finish and release its figures as quickly as possible, Cambodian Center for Human Rights president Ou Virak said.
“Verifying the ballots is the easiest part,” Virak said. “The opposition needs to show their 1104 form [their own figures from each polling station] to compare with the NEC’s form – station by station ... That’s really important and that should be the easiest thing to do. It would confirm or deny the claim by both parties.”
CNRP whip Son Chhay said the party was continuing to collate figures from monitors stationed at tens of thousands of polling stations, but that they had already collected ample evidence to show the party had won far more seats than the NEC’s figures would have allotted them.
The CNRP’s supposed evidence has been leaking out in piecemeal fashion to this point. In a post on Sam Rainsy’s Facebook page, the party displayed an 1104 poll monitoring form that purports to show the NEC inflated the vote count of small parties at one station, saying it was “evidence of forgery by the NEC to rig the election”.
“Similar evidence can be found at all polling stations all over the country,” the post reads.
NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha brushed aside such fraud claims, calling them wholly unfounded.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA