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HRP holds steady on NA boycott

HRP holds steady on NA boycott

THE OPPOSITION Human Rights Party held firm on their commitment to boycott Wednesday's opening session of the National Assembly, despite a last-minute deal that saw Sam Rainsy Party members change their stance.

HRP President Kem Sokha could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but Secretary General Yem Ponharith told the Post their boycott was still in place as they continue to wait for a response from King Norodom Sihamoni to their request for a separate swearing-in ceremony.

"We have not changed our stance on the boycott," he said. "We want the Cambodian people to be clear about our position. The SRP decided to attend, and that is their right. But our alliance remains strong."

He said the SRP informed him of their decision to attend on Tuesday night, but that both parties remain committed to resolving their disputes over July's national elections.

Prime Minister Hun Sen joked with reporters  about the absence of HRP members following Wednesday's inauguration.

"All political parties participated in the first session [but] I received word that HRP President Kem Sokha and his entourage got stuck in traffic, meaning that he tried to attend but was a bit late making his decision," Hun Sen said.

Yem Ponharith dismissed the prime minister's comments, saying all party members were firmly behind the boycott and had remained at party headquarters.

"I heard about the prime minister's comments. I don't know who could have told him this, but it is untrue," he said.

Puthea Hang, executive director of the Cambodian election monitor Nicfec, said Wednesday that SRP members chose not to wear the proper uniform of elected parliamentarians, suggesting they were not entirely happy about attending the session.

He said they decided to attend to show their respect for the people who voted for them.

The HRP, one of the newest entrants in Cambodia's political arena, won three of the National Assembly's 123 seats.

But the party risks losing them because of its decision to skip Wednesday's ceremony.

Government officials had earlier said any party that refused to attend the swearing-in would be stripped of its posts.

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