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Cambodian Opposition Refuses to Call Off Parliament Boycott

Cambodia's opposition says it will not end its planned boycott of parliament despite a plea from King Norodom Sihamoni for them to attend the opening session of the legislature next week.

In a letter to 55 elected opposition members, the king asks them to attend as a show of national unification and unity.

But spokesman for Sam Rainsy's Cambodia National Rescue Party, Yim Sovann, said a solution to the political crisis must be found before the opposition can attend parliament.

"We cannot betray our conscience on the fact that we have not completely solved the problem, and betray people's will by attending the opening."

Government spokesman Phay Siphan criticized the opposition's refusal to call off the boycott.

"We see that the invention of the so-called justice' is just an excuse not to abide by the rule of law and the constitution as well as not respecting the king. This is simply their party's personal issue."

On Tuesday, the main political parties said they are closer to an agreement following talks between Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy. But the two sides were still unable to agree on an opposition demand for an independent investigation into the disputed election.

A political crisis that has gripped Cambodia since the election commission certified Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party as the winner of the July election with 68 seats in the national assembly, ahead of Rainsy's CNRP with 55 seats.

The CNRP has rejected those results, alleging widespread fraud.
(This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.)