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King weighs in again

King Norodom Sihamoni (left) and Prime Minister Hun Sen attend a tree-planting ceremony in Preah Sihanouk province in July
King Norodom Sihamoni (left) and Prime Minister Hun Sen attend a tree-planting ceremony in Preah Sihanouk province in July. STINGER

King weighs in again

King Norodom Sihamoni has called on people to remain calm and allow the dispute over July’s national election to be resolved using the constitution and relevant public institutions – a move some say shows he has sided with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

“History shows us our nation has been divided and suffered a lot as a result. So I would like to call on all people to continue to stay calm and dignified,” Sihamoni wrote in a statement, his second since the election, issued from Beijing on Friday. “Resolution of national issues should be based on the constitution and carried out by relevant institutions under the constitution and law.”

But political analyst Lao Mong Hay said many people had no faith in such institutions and that he believed the King’s statement showed he had sided with the CPP.

“The substance of the letter is in line with the CPP’s strategy of resolving this issue as quickly as possible so they can form the National Assembly and a new government afterwards,” he said, adding the CPP may have asked the King for his support.

“I would like the King to have issued the letter after the final decision of the Constitutional Council and the announcement of the election results.”

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said it was offensive to the King to suggest he had taken sides.

“The King is a representative of unity and peace,” he said. “His statement … reflects the rule of law and the constitution.”

Son Soubert, an adviser to the King, said Sihamoni’s statement was likely a response to the military’s presence on the streets.

“I think it’s because of the presence of the army and armoured vehicles,” he said.

Soubert said the King had been in Beijing since August 12 for medical reasons and would be back “in time for the National Assembly to resume”.

Sihamoni is required to open the first session of the new National Assembly 60 days after the election.

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