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Cambodian opposition boycotts opening of parliament

Despite the boycott, King Norodom Sihamoni asked the majority party's Hun Sen to form a new cabinet.

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Ballots are counted for the Cambodian elections at a high school in Phnom Penh on July 28th. (Faine Greenwood/GlobalPost)

The Cambodian opposition boycotted the opening of parliament on Monday. In spite of the empty seats, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, led by Hun Sen, attended parliament’s first meeting, along with foreign diplomats.

"Our goal still stands. We are boycotting today's meeting because the truth has not been uncovered and there has been no breakthrough," Yim Sovann, a lawmaker for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), said.

Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party won 68 assembly seats and the CNRP won 55 seats in the country’s July 28 election. The CNRP claims it would have won the election if it had not been cheated out of 2.3 million votes and is calling for an independent commission to investigate.

Hun Sen and CNRP leader Sam Rainsy held talks last week, but the prime minister has refused to allow such an investigation.

More from GlobalPost: Cambodian leaders meet to end election results dispute as thousands protest

Despite the boycott, King Norodom Sihamoni asked Hun Sen to form a new cabinet, which must be approved by a majority of the newly elected lawmakers in a vote expected to take place on Tuesday.

Hun Sen, who’s led Cambodia for nearly 30 years, noted that the rules allow a new government to be formed with the consent of just 63 of the 123 lawmakers in parliament.

But experts said the government would be seen as lacking political legitimacy if it introduces laws without an opposition in parliament.

"A continued boycott will create a sense of crisis in Cambodia. Many people now view the government as lacking credibility," Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, told Agence France-Presse.

"As a result, the potential for unrest is becoming more and more real as time goes by," he warned. "It is clear that much of the population will not be happy with business as usual in Cambodian politics."

It looks likely that Hun Sen, 61, will be sworn in for another five-year term on Tuesday, BBC News reported.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/cambodia/130923/cambodian-opposition-boycotts-opening-parliament