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Opposition Dismisses Ruling Party 'Threats'


Opposition leaders dismissed threats made by Prime Minister Hun Sen Monday to withhold salaries and National Assembly committee seats if 29 lawmakers boycott the new government's swearing-in ceremony later this month.

Hun Sen told reporters Monday that opposition lawmakers who fail to swear in on Sept. 24 will be denied their salaries and lose their positions on the National Assembly's nine committees.

Those positions will be given to Cambodian People's Party lawmakers, he said.

"I told [CPP Secretary-General] Say Chum if the opposition parties don't join the swearing-in ceremony, we cannot wait for the participation from the opposition," Hun Sen said. "I asked Say Chum to choose nine members for each committee from the CPP. When the opposition does not swear in, it will have no validity, so [lawmakers] cannot get their salary."

Opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha said Tuesday they will not abandon their boycott stance.

"We aren't afraid of losing our positions and our salaries," Sam Rainsy said. "But we are afraid of losing justice, democracy and the will of the people, as well as the interest of the nation and the people."

In the previous National Assembly, the opposition Sam Rainsy Party held two chairs of National Assembly committees, Foreign Affairs, held by Son Chhay, and Defense, Interior and Inspection, held by Yim Sovann.

In the upcoming National Assembly, the CPP will hold all nine chairmanships, CPP lawmaker Cheam Yiep has said.

Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, which won three seats in July's election, said his lawmakers-elect were not afraid of "threats by the prime minister."

"The salaries and the positions do not belong to the prime minister, so Hun Sen cannot decide about this," he said. "The people have voted for us to get the posts and the salary from people's taxes."

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