King Calls on Parties to Respect Constitution

King Norodom Sihamoni announced Friday that the political impasse that has been formed in the wake of the July 28 national election should be resolved by “competent institutions stipulated by the Constitution and laws” of the country.

Both the ruling CPP and opposition CNRP claimed that King Sihamoni’s message, which was sent in a letter to all Cambodian citizens, supported their position in the post-election standoff.

But a political analyst said the King’s letter clearly supported the CPP’s position that any investigation into election irregularities must be conducted by the National Election Committee (NEC) or Constitutional Council of Cambodia, which are the only bodies given legal authority over the electoral process.

The CNRP has said an independent commission must conduct an investigation into election irregularities as it claims both the NEC and Constitutional Council are composed mainly of members loyal to the CPP.

According to the opposition, both bodies are therefore incapable of coming to an impartial decision over its claims that the CPP and NEC colluded in widespread manipulation of voter rolls and electoral fraud.

Cheam Yeap, a senior CPP lawmaker, said Sunday he saw the King’s letter as supporting the CPP’s position that an investigation, outside the authority of the NEC and Constitutional Council, would not be legally permissible.

“The royal message means that the Constitution stands as the basic law. The authorities have to follow the Constitution, and the Constitution stipulates that the people must follow authorities,” Mr. Yeap said.

“[The King] has seen the shaky situation after the election. As the parent of the family, he’s telling his kids to follow the family’s rules,” he added.

However, Yim Sovann, spokes­man for the CNRP, said the King’s letter supported the CNRP’s stance that in order for the Constitution to be properly respected, reform of the NEC and Constitutional Council is needed.

“The CNRP and our supporters have always done everything according to the law because we respect the Constitution. What we are asking for is reform of the democratic institutions which guarantee implementation of [the] Constitution,” he said.

But independent political analyst Lao Mong Hay said the King’s letter was clearly in line with the CPP in its calls for a solution to be found through existing institutions.

“[The King’s letter] is very much supporting the CPP and in line with the policy and strategy of the CPP to force ahead with the settlement of any complaints through the NEC and Constitutional Council to get the final results officially announced so that it could form the new National Assembly,” he said.

“I don’t know how the CNRP has interpreted that letter in that way, but the substance of the letter shows clearly that the King’s position is very much in line with the CPP’s policy and strategy,” Mr. Mong Hay added.

On Saturday, the Council of Ministers released its own statement citing the King’s letter in its own calls for political problems to be solved peacefully and in accordance with the Constitution and existing laws.

“The CPP and CNRP…kindly be patient and respect the will of the people who have cast their votes and continue to resolve problems peacefully in accordance with the Constitution and laws in force for the noble interest of our nation,” the statement says.

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