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Despite deadlock, PM says business as usual

Despite the country remaining trapped in a tense political stalemate that shows no signs of abating, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday reiterated that the government would continue working as normal while the opposition’s boycott of parliament continues.

“I will not talk about the political situation, as I know that [talks are frozen],” the premier said at a graduation ceremony for 4,000 university students at Koh Pich that was attended by hundreds of senior government officials.

“I will not talk for long [about this], as all the government’s institutions, the King, the Constitution, the Senate, the National Assembly, the prime minister, ministers and public services have been proceeding as normal,” he said.

But despite that pledge, he could not resist firing a shot across the bow of the Cambodia National Rescue Party – which appears to be standing firm on its call for an early election.

“We have to maintain peace and political stability, and to do this, we must not allow [the influence] of any reactionary group to hold the country hostage,” he said.

“They can say whatever they want, but we have to [work] as normal. [They complain that the ruling party] still has the same face of Hun Sen. [But] how can I change my face? Hun Sen’s face is still Hun Sen’s face. [Or should I go] to the beauty salon?”

Yim Sovann, spokesman for the CNRP, yesterday said that despite Hun Sen’s claim that the government was working as “normal”, members of the international community had voiced their discontent and urged both sides to solve the political deadlock.

“The government has a problem, and therefore we want to have a legitimate government that will bring justice to the people,” Sovann said.

CNRP officials said on Sunday that the Cambodian People’s Party had now agreed to all proposals made by the opposition via appointed negotiators, with the exception of their call for an early election.

The ruling party have long insisted that any new election would need a constitutional amendment approved by two-thirds of the National Assembly, and hence would require the CNRP to end their parliamentary boycott.

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