Threat of National Assembly Boycott Presents Royal Conundrum

Despite the opposition CNRP’s ongoing threats to boycott the opening of parliament next Monday, the National Assembly on Tuesday officially announced that King Norodom Sihamoni will open the first session of the new legislature as scheduled.

“On Monday, September 23, at 8 o’clock in the morning, the National Assembly in the fifth mandate will open the first session under the chairmanship of His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni,” the Assembly’s general secretariat said in a statement.

The Constitution requires the King to open parliament within 60 days of the last national election.

Observers and analysts, however, said the King faces a predicament if the opposition and its 55 lawmakers carry through with their boycott threats.

The CNRP has not yet shut the door on attending the opening session and is in the midst of negotiations with Prime Minister Hun Sen aiming to find a compromise that would avoid it. But if those efforts fail, the decision to continue with the scheduled opening may give the impression of partiality, they said.

“Maybe the public does not want to see the King open it unless the two parties agree” on joining the meeting, political analyst Chea Vannath said.

“It’s not the best scenario.”

Political analyst Kem Ley said that the decision to convene the As­sembly without the CNRP would likely alienate the nearly one half of the country’s electorate that voted for the opposition in July.

“It would have a huge impact…the people who support the CNRP will be upset,” Mr. Ley said.

For his part, Mr. Ley expects that the CPP and CNRP will reach a compromise before Monday’s meeting that would allow the opposition to show up, and the King to perform his constitutional duty.

But, if no agreement is reached, Mr. Ley predicted that it would be the CPP that would ask for the delay, so as not to put the monarchy, as a beloved institution, in a compromising situation vis-à-vis the competing political parties.

Oum Daravuth, a member of the Royal Palace Cabinet, declined to comment on the matter.

Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA new weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.