Cambodian PM Hun Sen blocks opposition demand for senior roles
Reuters in Phnom Penh
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen pushed ahead with forming a new government yesterday and said he had rejected a demand from the main opposition party, which says it won July's general election, to be given senior positions in parliament.
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which boycotted the opening of parliament on Monday, said it would hold more protests around the country. One man was shot and killed during a rally in the capital, Phnom Penh, last week.
Hun Sen told reporters that, in talks last week, the CNRP had not pressed its demand for an independent inquiry into alleged irregularities during the July poll, but had sought the position of National Assembly president plus six of the 12 committee chairmen's jobs.
"Have you ever seen, anywhere in the world, a minority party holding the position of the president of parliament?" he asked.
The prime minister suggested the real reason for the opposition boycott of parliament was not alleged vote-rigging, but its failure to secure top jobs.
"If we'd agreed to their demand for the presidency, they would surely have attended the meeting," he said.
The National Election Committee says Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won 68 seats in the poll to the CNRP's 55. That was already a big setback for Hun Sen, but the CNRP claimed victory, saying it was cheated out of 2.3 million votes.
Hun Sen has ridden roughshod over critics in the past, but was obliged to hold talks with CNRP leader Sam Rainsy last week as an emboldened opposition took to the streets. He has taken back the initiative by forcing the opening of parliament in the face of the CNRP boycott, leaving the opposition struggling to keep up the momentum.
The names of ministers have not yet been announced, but a first cabinet meeting is due to be held today.
Hun Sen, 61, has been in power for 28 years.