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Outsider party urges CNRP to ‘take a seat’

Outsider party urges CNRP to ‘take a seat’

The head of the tiny Khmer Economic Development Party (KEDP), which failed to win a single seat in the July 28 elections, yesterday called on the opposition to take its 55 seats at the National Assembly and form a coalition with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Businessman Huon Reach Camroeun, whose party declared during the election campaign that it would win seats in at least seven provinces, said yesterday it was time for the country to unite.

In keeping with the spirit of Cambodia’s post-election climate, the KEDP president said his party had plans to take to the streets to protest.

The party, however, had instead decided that a press conference yesterday was a better way to get its message across while the capital braced itself for the planned three-day opposition rally on Wednesday.

“We would like to ask the [Cambodia] National Rescue Party to join the National Assembly, thus following the constitution and allowing the nation to be reunited,” Reach Camroeun said.

He had already sent petitions to the CNRP calling on it to form a coalition government, he added.

The opposition continues to dispute the results of July’s election, which awarded a victory to the CPP, 68 seats to 55. The CNRP refused to take its seats when the new National Assembly was sworn in last month because of unresolved electoral irregularities.

Reach Camroeun said the CNRP had made a big mistake and needed to return to the table to enter a power-sharing agreement.

He then told reporters that his decision to take a stand on the issue had not been influenced in any way by the CPP.

CNRP spokesman Yem Ponharith said yesterday it was highly unlikely that his party would take the advice of the KEDP president, describing his words as similar to a statement recently made by CPP lawmaker Chheang Vun.

“The Khmer people will not stand for us forming a coalition with the CPP,” he said.

If, however, the KEDP wanted to take the matter to the streets, Ponharith added, it was their right to do so.

Vun said he was too busy to comment.

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