Just days before the planned mass demonstration by the opposition, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An took pains to assure foreign donors that there is no danger of deadlock.
In separate meetings with the Japanese and Australian ambassadors, Sok An insisted that parliament is on track to convene within 60 days of the July 28 vote – as mandated by the constitution.
“[He] assured them that in accordance with the law on the National Assembly and its internal regulations, and the Constitution of Cambodia, there are required to be only 63 parliamentarians for the first meeting for the formation of the National Assembly and the government,” spokesman for the Council of Ministers Ek Tha said following the meetings.
Though the constitution says the National Assembly is made up of at least 120 lawmakers and that 7/10ths of lawmakers are needed to approve the new government, Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior officials have maintained that they can open parliament without the opposition and have threatened to redistribute their seats if they boycott.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Tha said both ambassadors called for peaceful negotiations to resolve the post-election stalemate.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party on Monday announced its long-promised mass demonstration would be a peaceful ceremony involving “contemplation and prayer”. The party has been calling for a thorough investigation into electoral irregularities, which it claims would have seen it win 63 seats, instead of the 55 announced by the government the night of the election.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said he was “not interested” in Sok An’s comments regarding parliament’s formation, and were focusing on their Saturday protest.
But election monitors said the vagueness of the law’s wording was disconcerting and opened the door for the government to do as it threatened.
“So far, the interpretation of law on the quorum to convene the first meeting of the National Assembly has remained in dispute among legal experts of the CPP, CNRP and civil society,” Koul Panha, executive director of election watchdog Comfrel, said.