Opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Friday wrote a letter to King Sihamoni noting that Article 82 of the Constitution allows for the National Assembly to be convened 60 days after final election results are announced, and reiterated the CNRP’s intent to boycott the first session of the Assembly on Monday.
“We have a new reason and can take a strong position because we think that it is not necessary to rush the meeting to September 23 because in the Constitution, Article 82 says the first session of the National Assembly shall open 60 days after the election,” Mr. Rainsy said at a press conference at CNRP headquarters in Meanchey district.
He said that if the Constitution stated “election day,” instead of just “election,” then parliament would need to be convened by Monday, which is almost 60 days since the vote.
However, if parliament is not convened until 60 days after the National Election Committee released its final election results on September 8, then the King could open parliament as late as November 7, he said.
“If you read the Constitution properly, we have more than a month, so we want to take advantage of this time left to negotiate with the CPP on ways and means to find the truth, about who is the real winner of this election,” Mr. Rainsy said.
In a two-page letter to King Sihamoni dated Friday, Mr. Rainsy refers to articles 1, 8, 9, 51 new, 76 and 82 of the Constitution as reasons that the King could delay convening parliament on Monday.
“It violates the Constitution, if the initial session of the National Assembly goes ahead on September 23, 2013, without members of the elected parliamentarians from the [CNRP],” the letter also states.
Articles 1 and 51 emphasize that the King must fulfill his functions according to the Constitution and the principles of a liberal multi-party democracy. Article 76 says that “the National Assembly shall compromise at least 120 members.” Articles 8 and 9 say that the King should be a symbol of national unity and should ensure the execution of public powers.
“I would like to inform His Majesty that [the late King Father] Preah Barom Ratana Kot Norodom Sihanouk during the third mandate of the National Assembly decided not to convene the initial session because there were only 72 elected parliamentarians from the CPP attending the meeting,” Mr. Rainsy said in the letter.
The third mandate was not convened until 355 days after the 2003 national election after the Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec refused to take their seats amid a dispute with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP.
In the letter and at the press conference, Mr. Rainsy reiterated again that no CNRP lawmakers would attend the opening of the National Assembly on Monday.
“We are still not going to the meeting at the National Assembly on September 23,” he said.
Prak Sokhon, Council of Ministers secretary of state, said Friday that convening of the National Assembly “will not change date.”
“It is [the CNRP’s] problem if they don’t attend the meeting because the Constitution doesn’t stipulate the number of people who must join the meeting,” he said.
“The CPP is waiting to hear from the CNRP [about negotiations] because the proposal for a solution that was sent to the CNRP after the Tuesday meeting and has not moved ahead,” he said, referring to the second day of talks held earlier this week between CNRP and CPP leaders at the National Assembly.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that his party will on Saturday send a petition to the King, bearing the thumbprints and signatures of people who ask that the first session of parliament be delayed.
“So far, I have received some [petitions] but I didn’t count yet how many thumbprints have been sent here,” he said.