Cambodia king steps in to help resolve post-election crisis

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni intervened Thursday to help resolve a post-election crisis in Cambodia, calling on the leaders of the two major political parties to meet Saturday under his auspices.

The king made the call in letters sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen of the Cambodian People's Party, which won the July 28 general election, and Sam Rainsy of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which has rejected the results and insists it would have won if the election was conducted fairly.

He urged the two rivals to attend a meeting Saturday at 9 a.m. inside the Royal Palace in order "to settle national problem."

The king's move also came just hours after the CNRP issued a statement appealing its supporters to join from Saturday a three-day mass protest against the official election results, which show the CPP won 68 seats in the 123-seat National Assembly, with the remaining 55 seats going to the CNRP.

"The CNRP will hold a massive nonviolent demonstration on Sept. 15, 16 and 17 at the Freedom Park in Phnom Penh in order to demand for a set-up of an independent committee to probe the election irregularities," the CNRP statement said.

Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy were both on hand Wednesday at Phnom Penh's airport to welcome the king home from China, but they neither spoke nor shook hands with each other while together in the VIP terminal.

The king is scheduled to convene the first session of the new National Assembly on Sept. 23.

Sam Rainsy has threatened to boycott the first session if there is no "appropriate solution" to his party's demand for a joint independent committee to be set up to probe election irregularities.