Cambodia's Hun Sen pushes on with forming government, rejects opposition role

PHNOM PENH Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:47am EDT

1 of 3. Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) arrives at the National Assembly for a meeting in central Phnom Penh September 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Samrang Pring

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PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen pushed ahead with forming a new government on Tuesday and said he had rejected a demand from the main opposition party, which says it won July's general election, to be given senior positions in parliament.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which boycotted the opening of parliament on Monday, said it would hold further protests around the country. One man was shot and killed during a rally in the capital, Phnom Penh, last week.

Hun Sen told reporters that, in talks last week, the CNRP had not pressed its demand for an independent inquiry into alleged irregularities during the July poll, but had sought the position of National Assembly president plus six of the 12 committee chairmen's jobs.

"Have you ever seen, anywhere in the world, a minority party holding the position of the president of parliament?" he asked.

The prime minister suggested the real reason for the opposition boycott of parliament was not alleged vote-rigging, but its failure to secure top jobs.

"If we'd agreed to their demand for the presidency, they would surely have attended the meeting," he said.

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 in the 1970s and the civil war that followed.

But his authoritarian rule and widespread corruption alienated many young people who did not live through that era and who turned to the newly merged CNRP in the election.

The National Election Committee says Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won 68 seats in the poll 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.

Hun Sen has ridden roughshod over critics in the past, but was obliged to hold talks with CNRP leader Sam Rainsy last week as an emboldened opposition took to the streets.

He has taken back the initiative by forcing the opening of parliament in the face of the CNRP boycott, leaving the opposition struggling to keep up the momentum.

"We will hold nationwide demonstrations and we will mount a diplomatic campaign to ensure that the election results and the unconstitutional meeting of parliament are not recognised," CNRP lawmaker Yim Sovann told Reuters.

The Cambodian constitution stipulates that "the National Assembly shall comprise at least 120 members".

The opposition and some political analysts say that means a quorum of 120 lawmakers is needed to open parliament. Monday's session went ahead after the names of the 123 elected members were simply read out and Hun Sen said in a short speech to the house on Tuesday that everything had been done legally.

He says the rules stipulate a new government can be formed if a minimum 63 of the 123 lawmakers vote in favour and his premiership was endorsed by the 68 CPP members on Tuesday.

The names of ministers have not yet been announced, but a first cabinet meeting is due to be held on Wednesday.

(Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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Comments (3)
Mikecimerian wrote:
Adroit parliamentarian, he is going by the book. The opposition should learn about filibuster.

Sep 24, 2013 6:39am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Philpw wrote:
Hun Sen is very clever. He will win, but he is clever enough to know that he has to offer some reforms or there will be a simmering resentment for years. The Chinese, who have most influence, will also want to stabilise the situation as any unrest will affect their ability to take advantage of cheap labour in Cambodia.

No concessions will be made until the opposition co-operates. If they don’t Hun Sen loses face, if they do they lose face so its difficult. Either way a prolonged struggle will not help the Cambodian people. it will damage trade and tourism and may halt the countries economic growth.

Sep 24, 2013 8:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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 shock.

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 24, 2013 10:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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