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National Assembly to convene without opposition members

National Assembly to convene without opposition members

The boycott holds as opposition leaders say they won’t participate in a process that undermines the principles of democracy

ASSEMBLY

SCHEDULE

The National Assembly will convene at 8:30am and King Norodom Sihamoni will address lawmakers in the morning, followed by the announcement of all valid parliamentarians, who will be sworn in during an afternoon ceremony at the Royal Palace.

OPPOSITION party members will not attend today's first session of the National Assembly, Sam Rainsy told the Post Tuesday, despite the risk of losing their parliamentary seats.

Sam Rainsy reaffirmed his and other opposition parties' determination to boycott the swearing-in session in protest over voting irregularities in July's national polls.

"We still do not recognise the election results, and we refuse to vote in a pack because it runs contrary to democratic principles that require separation of legislative and executive branches of government," he said.

Opposition parties had petitioned King Norodom Sihamoni to hold a separate swearing-in ceremony for their parliamentarians but received no response, he said.

"If we join this block voting, we would be legitimising this [undemocratic] process," Sam  Rainsy said.

He added that opposition party members want to be sworn in on Friday, and the location does not matter.

"The constitution does not prohibit this. In our hearts, we have been honest with the nation, honest with the people. We can be sworn in anywhere, because our hearts are honest," he said.

Kem Sokha, Human Rights Party president, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, but HRP Secretary General Yem Ponharith told the Post the party's stance remains unchanged.

IF WE JOIN THIS BLOCK VOTING, WE WOULD BE LEGITIMISING THIS...PROCESS.

"We still refuse to be sworn in with CPP party members," he said. "Our boycott doesn't mean we want to negotiate positions in Parliament. "We don't want positions. What we want is a fair National Election Committee, a fair Constitutional Council and justice," Yem Ponharith said.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap told the Post Tuesday he regretted that opposition parties chose not to respect Cambodia's constitution by boycotting the National Assembly.

"We will still meet, and it is not contrary to the constitution, even though they will not attend," he said. "But if they don't attend [Tuesday], they will never attend ever again.

"They have tarnished the reputation of the King, who is our national reconciler and who has requested their attendance," he said.

Heang Rithy, president of the Cambodian National Research Organisation, said the boycott is an obstacle to national unity and contrary to national law.

He added, however, that all parties have made a mistake in not setting conditions for a boycott in the event a party determines that elections were not fair.

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