Cambodian opposition to boycott parliament opening

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia’s opposition says it will go ahead with a plan to boycott parliament’s opening session Monday unless a last-minute compromise is reached to resolve the country’s post-election deadlock.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Friday that his party is sticking to its demand for an independent probe of alleged cheating it says helped the longtime ruling party win elections on July 28.

The government has rejected the demand, and Prime Minister Hun Sen says he will take office, continuing his 28 years in power.

Official results gave Hun Sen’s party 68 seats, compared to 55 for the opposition. The opposition says it would have won the majority of seats had the election been fair.

Sam Rainsy and Hun Sen have met several times to discuss the impasse but have failed to find a solution.

“Our final stance is that we will not be attending the opening session of parliament,” Sam Rainsy told a news conference, urging the ruling party to meet for more negotiations before Monday.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party and Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni say that under the constitution, parliament must convene within 60 days of the election.

Sam Rainsy, however, disputed that interpretation, saying that parliament could convene within 60 days of the results being ratified, which took place Sept. 8.

“There should be no rush,” he said. “If you read the constitution properly, we have more than a month, so we want to take advantage of this month…to negotiate with the CPP.”

Meanwhile, Prince Sisowath Thomico, a member of both the royal family and the opposition party, began a hunger strike that he said would continue until “justice” had been delivered for the voters.

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