PHNOM PENH: Cambodia’s parliament reappointed strongman premier Hun Sen for another five-year term yesterday, extending his nearly three-decade rule as the opposition threatened to mount fresh protests over fiercely disputed elections.
The controversial move came despite recent mass public demonstrations and a boycott of parliament by Hun Sen’s political rivals, who have alleged widespread fraud in the July polls.
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party refused to take its seats for the opening session of the lower house on Monday, saying the kingdom was sliding towards “dictatorship”.
All 68 ruling party lawmakers yesterday agreed a list of government members and reappointed Hun Sen as premier through a show of hands in parliament.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy slammed the developments as a “constitutional coup” and said the ruling Cambodian People’s Party “illegally clings on to power”, in a post on his Facebook page.
The CNRP, which alleges widespread vote irregularities, has described the legislature as a “one-party parliament” and warned of fresh demonstrations in the capital. “There will be mass protests in Phnom Penh and nationwide,” party spokesman Yim Sovann said after Hun Sen’s re-election.
“The CNRP will continue to seek truth and justice for the voters.” The CPP has rejected the opposition’s call for an independent investigation into the election.
Speaking after his reappointment, Hun Sen blamed the CNRP for the absence of an opposition in the National Assembly.
“We cannot become hostages to any group,” he told reporters. He said his government had not “closed the door” to the opposition and had offered their lawmakers the posts of deputy parliamentary president and chairmanship of several committees.