Representatives of 10 civil society organizations on Sunday gathered near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh to submit a petition to King Norodom Sihamoni asking him not to preside over the opening session of the National Assembly today.
More than 260,000 thumb-printed copies of a similar appeal were sent to the King on Saturday.
“If the King presides over the [National Assembly] meeting on September 23, it will be against the will of the people,” said Sing Pov, 54, one of about 40 CNRP supporters who gathered near the National Museum on Saturday to see the documents taken to the Royal Palace.
“I sincerely hope the King considers the content [of the petition],” Mr. Pov said.
King Sihamoni has twice stated that he is bound by law to attend the inaugural session of parliament, and has urged the CNRP, who are threatening to boycott the meeting, to take their seats as well.
Ho Dy Ho, a representative of King Sihamoni, accepted Sunday’s petition and confirmed that the King had personally received the previous day’s petition.
“We have sent the petition to the King, but we have not heard anything back from him yet,” Mr. Dy Ho said.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that while his party had helped mobilize local leaders to gather the quarter-million thumbprints on Saturday’s petition, the impetus for the document came from regular citizens.
“It was the people’s idea,” he said. “We gave them some advice [on] how to bring the petition to reach the King, and we had to compromise with the police who guarded the area.”
Police presence near the Royal Palace was heavy over the weekend. When some 200 people attempted to march to the site at about 8 a.m. Sunday to submit the latest petition, they were stopped by an equal number of riot police manning a succession of roadblocks set up on Sisowath Quay.
“They prevented us from submitting the petition to the King, and so have betrayed the King and their own people,” said Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association.
Mr. Pov, along with three other individuals, was eventually allowed through the blockade to walk to the Royal Palace with the petitions around 10:30 a.m.
De facto CPP spokesman Cheam Yeap said that not only will the petitions submitted over the weekend prove ineffective, they are merely attempts by the CNRP to further their agenda.
“NGOs, community organizations, civil society…80 percent of them are CNRP-aligned,” Mr. Yeap said.