The Mekong Times
In their first public exchange of words since the national election, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned opposition leader Sam Rainsy against his party boycotting the soon to be formed National Assembly (NA), warning the seats would simply be divided among other parties.
Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party won an estimated 90 seats in the July 27 election. The Sam Rainy Party (SRP) thought it had increased its minority by two to 26, but it has disputed the results, claiming that up to a million voters were disenfranchised.
“If the SRP boycotts the NA, the 26 seats the SRP won will be divided among other parties,” said the premier to Sam Rainsy while they were seeing off former King Sihanouk to Beijing at Phnom Penh International Airport on Friday.
Hun Sen added that while he welcomes the slight increase in votes for the SRP, that the party should now accept the election results.
“On September 24, the NA plans to convene a meeting to swear in. If you do not swear in [its new lawmakers] … your seats will be divided among others,” Hun Sen said.
Sam Rainsy responded with a smile, saying: “My party represents the votes of two million.”
“Two million! But you don’t plan to attend the parliamentary session! You are using this fact to prevent the session? You wait and see if I am right,” warned the premier.
Hun Sen then described the adhoc alliance formed by the SRP, the Norodom Ranariddh Party and Human Rights Party to dispute the election results as “demonic.”
“You want to accuse me. Please go ahead. But I just use rights to defend myself. Now the election has been already conducted … and I have 90 seats.”
SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said that the party is currently busy gathering evidence about irregularities in the election and demanding that the government find solutions for the disenfranchised.
“We don’t have time to decide if we will attend the NA session or not,” he said, dismissing Hun Sen’s remarks as a threat.
If the SRP’s seats are allocated to others, “it is not right according to law and inappropriate according to the principles of democracy,” added Son Chhay.
“The SRP is protesting the election results as it wants respect for democratic principles and law and a balance in power between the government and the NA,” Son Chhay added.
Sok Sam Oeun, president of Cambodian Defenders Project, said if the SRP refused to attend the NA’s inaugural session that the National Election
Committee (NEC) can legally take its seats and divide them among other parties.
“But if [we] do so, it is contrary to the principles of democracy, because the party which has seats in the NA represents people. If people’s supportive votes are divided to other parties, it is not proper.”
Tep Nytha, NEC secretary general, added that along with losing its seats, the SRP’s name would be struck from the nation’s list of political parties if it relinquishes its seats in the NA.