HRP To Attend First Assembly Session Out of Respect for King

Contrary to previous opposition assertions, the Human Rights Party will attend the opening ceremony of the new National As­sembly on Sept 24, but only for the session that will be attended by King Norodom Sihamoni.

The HRP and the SRP have main­tained that in protest against alleged election irregularities, their lawmakers would not be sworn in during any ceremony involving the ruling CPP and that they would boycott the first session of the Assembly.

But HRP board of directors member Keat Sokhun said Wed­nesday that his party’s three lawmakers-elect will indeed be showing up at the first meeting of the Assembly on Sept 24 because they have been invited by the King, but only for as long as Norodom Sihamoni remains at the ceremony.

“We will participate with King Sihamoni during the Assembly meeting,” he said.

“If we don’t par­ticipate, we will not be respecting the King,” he added.

Keat Sokhun said this does not mean that HRP lawmakers will be taking part in any debates or voting because the King will depart from the Assembly before such activities get under way, and HRP lawmakers will walk out at the same time.

The HRP still plans to boycott the rest of the session, and it is still hoping the King will grant the opposition’s request for their lawmakers to be sworn in at a different time than those from the CPP.

SRP Deputy Secretary-General Mu Sochua said by telephone that despite the HRP’s decision to attend, the SRP’s 26 lawmakers-elect met Wednesday evening and decided that they will not participate even though the King

is presiding over the opening

ceremony.

“We won’t participate,” Mu Sochua said.

“We hope that the King will understand; we have given reasons [for our boycott] to the King,” she said. “We never disrespect the King, but this is our will, which represents 1.7 million

people.”

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kan­harith said the HRP had made the right decision by saying they would attend the ceremony.

“[HRP President] Kem Sokha has realized that he was tricked by [SRP President] Sam Rainsy,” he said.

“The party that does not join will be at a loss,” Khieu Kanharith added while reiterating the CPP’s threat that any lawmakers who decline to be sworn in to the Assembly will lose their seats.

But Keat Sokhun said the HRP’s decision to attend should not be thought of as a break from the SRP in their joint protest of the election results, but only

as a sign of respect for King Sihamoni.

“The HRP and SRP stances are not different,” he said.

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