The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party wants to attend the elaborate three-day ceremony that will see the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk’s ashes interred at the Silver Pagoda, but not as parliamentarians, the title under which they have been invited, a spokesman said yesterday.
All 55 CNRP lawmakers-elect have been invited to the proceedings, which start today, as MPs but have asked the Committee for Organising National and International Festivals to allow them to send a delegation of 25 officials instead, spokesman Yim Sovann said.
The opposition party continues to boycott the National Assembly, claiming it is illegal because only Cambodian People’s Party lawmakers have taken their seats. The CNRP began the boycott after last July’s national election, which it claims was rigged.
“They invite us as parliamentarians, but we do not consider ourselves as parliamentarians,” Sovann said.
With party leader Sam Rainsy out of the country, deputy leader Kem Sokha would head the delegation, he added.
“[Rainsy] is busy with his work outside the country, so Kem Sokha . . . will lead the delegation. But we will wait for permission from the organising committee.”
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, who sits on the committee, yesterday signalled that the CNRP delegation would be allowed to attend.
“This is not a party ceremony. CNRP [who] would be MPs could be there,” he said in a Facebook message.
Prince Sisowath Thomico, the King Father’s nephew and a CNRP candidate last July, said he didn’t believe it would be a problem. “It makes no difference [to the committee]. Whoever is coming will be OK as [long as they are among] the 55 [invited],” he said, adding that not attending as lawmakers was his suggestion.
“I told Sam Rainsy if we accepted the invitation we are accepting the result of the election.”
Royal Palace Minister Kong Sam Ol could not be reached.
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the ceremony was above partisan politics.
“It’s for all, not just for one political party,” he said.