Phnom Penh (Cambodia), 24 September 2008: Taking a picture of the opening session of the new Parliament in the press room, the only place accessible to the photographs. (Photo: John Vink/Magnum)
On Wednesday 24 September, King Sihamoni opened the first session of the National Assembly. Among the 123 MPs, only 4 were absent: Mrs. Tioulong Saumura, Sam Rainsy’s spouse and SRP MP, as well as the three HRP MPs, including Kem Sokha, the HRP party president, who arrived at the National Assembly too late and were prevented from entering. Sam Rainsy, accompanied by some of his party MPs, entered the National Assembly through the south gate, two minutes before the arrival of the king who, following the latter’s arrival, all entry doors to the NA were closed. Up until the last minute, the opposition leader left some doubt about the possibility that his party’s MPs may or may not join this inauguration in protest of the 27 July election results. At the end of the morning, Son Chhay, a heavy weight of the SRP, said that he was satisfied with this new Parliament session in which, “for the first time, the presentation of each MP could be conducted.” In the afternoon of Wednesday, all the MPs are called in again for the swearing-in session.