Cambodian opposition boycotts parliament, Hun Sen remains PM

PHNOM PENH Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:47am EDT

1 of 6. Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni (centre L) and members of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) pose for a photograph during a new parliament session in central Phnom Penh September 23, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Samrang Pring

Related Topics

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Opposition lawmakers boycotted the opening of Cambodia's parliament on Monday, threatening a constitutional crisis, after the authorities refused to hold an independent inquiry into alleged vote-rigging by the party of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

King Norodom Sihamoni issued a decree reappointing Hun Sen, giving the royal seal of approval to the results of July's general election, and the long-serving premier is expected to outline his new government's policies to parliament on Tuesday.

Security at the National Assembly and elsewhere in the capital, Phnom Penh, was tight, with many roads blocked off after opposition protests last week in which one man died.

"Our goal still stands. We are boycotting today's meeting because the truth has not been uncovered and there has been no breakthrough," Yim Sovann, a lawmaker for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), told Reuters.

"This meeting is a violation of the constitution."

The National Election Committee (NEC) says Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won 68 seats in the July 28 election to the CNRP's 55. That was already a big setback for Hun Sen, but the CNRP claimed victory, saying it was cheated out of 2.3 million votes.

The opposition and some political analysts say a quorum of 120 lawmakers is needed to open parliament. Hun Sen has ignored that, saying the rules stipulate a new government can be formed if 63 of the 123 lawmakers vote in favour.

"The positive mood that was witnessed during the campaign period and the hope inspired by the election outcome, which signalled that Cambodia was on a sure path to a fully functioning democracy, are now fading," said Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

But he thought the opposition would continue to press for concessions. "They can also look for signs of division and breakdown within the ruling party as I think their ultimate goal at this stage is to see Hun Sen, not the CPP, out of power."

Hun Sen and CNRP leader Sam Rainsy held talks last week and agreed to look at how future elections are held plus possible reforms to national institutions. However, the premier has refused to accept any further investigation into the July poll.

A U.S. embassy statement issued after parliament opened called for "a transparent review of irregularities", to help address flaws in the electoral process.

It called on the two parties to follow up on a statement last week agreeing to further dialogue. "We believe that a functioning National Assembly requires the participation of both major political parties."

The European Union urged both sides to work to reform the electoral process. But the National Assembly, it said in a statement, "cannot serve its purpose without the participation of all elected political parties".


Independent analyst Chea Vannath said that while the CNRP had the right to demand an independent inquiry, the investigation could go ahead at some time in the future.

"The king has already issued a message and things can't go back ... The CNRP should start the hard work that will be needed over the next five years," she added.

King Sihamoni had turned down a request from the CNRP to delay the start of parliament, saying he was constitutionally required to preside over the opening within 60 days of the poll.

In his address to the house, the king said newly elected members of parliament had to put the national interest first.

"The Cambodian nation must stand united and show the highest national solidarity based on the implementation of the principles of democracy and rule of law that we have been practising since 1993," he said.

That year Cambodia held its first elections, under United Nations supervision, since before the ultra-maoist Khmer Rouge regime of the late 1970s and the civil war that followed.

Hun Sen, 61, has been in power for 28 years and has said he will rule Cambodia into his seventies.

He portrays himself as the man who saved Cambodia from the terror and chaos of the Khmer Rouge years. But his authoritarian rule, along with widespread corruption, alienated many young people who did not live through that era and who turned to the newly merged opposition CNRP in the election.

(Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by Paul Tait and Ron Popeski)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (1)
Mr. Sam Rainsy/CNRP requested to have independent commission or United Nation to investigate the election fraud that took place on July 28, 2013. This request would serve justice for all Cambodian people, including CPP, and CNRP because independent commission would not work neither for CPP nor CNRP. However, PM Hun Sen/ CPP rejected the request and this rejection leads to mass protest. Without independent commission to investigate the alleged fraud, the whole world knows that Hun Sen robbed this election. Hun Sen/CPP must respect the election as an honest race/competition.

Mr. Sam Rainsy is a clean person who has no history of killing anyone and deserves to be a leader.

Unlike Mr. Sam Rainsy. Mr. Hun Sen was one of the former Khmer Rouge commanders who is responsible for the death of millions of innocent Cambodian people during the Khmer Rouge genocide. During the Vietnamese invasion between 1979 and 1989, Hun Sen sent hundreds of thousands of innocent Cambodian people to be killed in the jungle under “K5″ plan. Other people were tortured by using electric

Currently, Hun Sen and his regime commit corruption by selling public land and forest/lumber to foreigners and pocket themselves this money. Besides, they use forces to evict hundreds of thousands of innocent Cambodian people and take these people lands and sold them to foreigners for their pockets while the evicted people are struggling to survive with less than sixty five cent a day. At the same time, they make the donor countries to send them money and part of it goes to their pockets. Mr. Hun Sen knows how to make people give him easy money.

Mr. Hun Sen and CPP members have billions of dollars in saving from corruption while eighty percent of Cambodian population live less than one dollar a day. My tax dollars were given to a corrupt and tyrant leader.

Mr. Hun Sen is a vicious human being and does not qualify to be a leader. Hun Sen is a war criminal and needs to be jailed. It is very shameful to the world that supports such evil person like Mr. Hun Sen to stay in power to continue killing and hurting innocent people.

Sep 23, 2013 12:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus