Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday that the political opposition is welcome to boycott the first session of the next National Assembly, but in doing so, it would lose the chance to have seats on the Assembly’s nine commissions.
The CPP had been threatening that if opposition lawmakers-elect refuse to be sworn in, their seats would be redistributed among other parties, but Monday, Hun Sen said that this was not possible.
“We don’t have the right to divide the seats,” Hun Sen said. “I don’t want the seats divided.”
The prime minister added, however, that he had instructed CPP Secretary-General Say Chhum to give any Assembly commission posts open to the opposition to CPP lawmakers if the SRP and Human Rights Party boycott the Assembly.
Hun Sen also weighed in on the opposition’s request for King Norodom Sihamoni to grant their lawmakers a swearing-in ceremony separate from the CPP, saying he doesn’t care if opposition legislators “get sworn in under a tamarind tree,” but they should not be making such demands of the King.
King Sihamoni has not yet revealed whether he will grant the opposition an alternate ceremony, but in a Thursday letter to the SRP received Monday, the King said he had forwarded the request to the Constitutional Council. Attached to the King’s letter was a Sept 9 response from Constitutional Council President Ek Sam Ol that effectively torpedoed the opposition request.
“The Constitutional Council states that the King is inviolable. The King cannot be allowed to have individuals requesting of him to please their desires,” Ek Sam Ol wrote.
SRP President Sam Rainsy, who returned from France on Monday, said his party would be sticking with its plan to boycott the Assembly and the swearing-in ceremony .
The SRP leader also met with US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte on Monday. Sam Rainsy said he had requested that Negroponte ask the Cambodian government to recognize the role and rights of the political opposition, as well as to push for the opposition to be given positions within the Assembly.