Phnom Penh — Hun Sen was sworn in as Cambodian Prime Minister for a new five-year term after parliament re-elected him in spite of a boycott by the opposition party, according to reports.
The long-serving premier took the oath of office at the Royal Palace Tuesday in the presence of King Norodom Sihamoni and Buddhist monk leaders Tep Vong and Bour Kry.
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has boycotted parliament since it opened on Monday in protest over the July election results which gave the ruling party 68 seats to the opposition’s 55.
Hun Sen, in his speech to parliament, declared his new term was “a historic day for Cambodia”, and said the elections were “free, fair, just and transparent”.
Hun Sen was also quoted as saying the new government and parliament were formed in accordance with the constitution, which requires a 50 percent plus one majority, or 63 lawmakers, in the parliament.
“We are all here not the hostage of any group; we complete our duties in accordance with the constitution of Cambodia,” the premier said in response to the opposition’s claim that the new parliament was being held in violation of the constitution.
However, political analysts said the opposition boycott could put the new government’s legitimacy in question in the eyes of the international community.
Chheang Vannarith, senior researcher of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, told the media “Without the opposition’s participation, the legitimacy of the new government would be questioned and its role and image on the international stage could be downgraded”.
He warned that without domestic political stability and national unity, the Cambodian economy would face huge challenges.
The United States, Japan, Australia, and the European Commission have urged the Cambodian government to transparently review the July elections for alleged irregularities.
“If these countries do not support the new parliament, Cambodia will face an economic crisis because those countries are main importers of Cambodian products, especially garments,” noted Professor Sok Touch, deputy chief of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institue, said. “Moreover, investors and tourists from Western countries may hesitate to come to Cambodia.”
The government has thus far rejected the opposition demand for an independent inquiry into the July elections.
An opposition spokesman on Tuesday said there would be “mass protests in Phnom Penh and nationwide” following Hun Sen’s new appointment. Image/news168.co.uk