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King could delay swearing in of National Assembly: SRP

King could delay swearing in of National Assembly: SRP

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Sihamoni’s return raises opposition hopes that new govt will not be formed until electoral complaints are resolved by NEC

HENG CHIVOAN

King Sihamoni arrived back Friday after a week in Beijing at the Olympics.

Opposition politicians have said they will ask King Norodom Sihamoni to postpone opening the National Assembly until a myriad of election complaints filed by their parties are addressed, as the ruling Cambodian People's Party threatens to seize the parliamentary posts of lawmakers who refuse to be sworn in.

"The SRP has not given up the seats it won," said Kong Korm, deputy president of the Sam Rainsy Party, which along with Kem Sokha's Human Rights Party (HRP) has rejected the results of the July 27 election, alleging widespread voter fraud. The parties claim they will not join the National Assembly until their complaints have been dealt with.

The constitution holds that newly elected representatives can be sworn in only once the King calls the first meeting of the National Assembly, said Kong Korm, adding that the SRP will ask the King to wait until its grievances have been addressed before convening the body.

Nguon Nhel, CPP lawmaker and first vice chairman of the National Assembly, said the law required the National Assembly to meet within 60 days of the election. "They can join the meeting or not. If they do not join the meeting, they choose to kill themselves," he said Sunday, adding that the King would preside over the swearing in at the National Assembly regardless of whether the opposition was present. "Their request to postpone will not be met," he said.

Koul Panha, executive director of the election monitor Comfrel, said opposition parties ran the risk of forfeiting their seats, saying that the only criteria for the Assembly to convene was that 120 seats were occupied.

"If ... a new government is established without opposition parties, it would reflect badly on Cambodian politics," he told the Post. 

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