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Opposition Requests Second-Day Swear-In

Two opposition parties have declined an invitation by King Norodom Sihamoni to join in a swearing-in ceremony for the new government scheduled later this month and have asked to have their newly elected parliamentarians sworn in a day later.

King Sihamoni issued his royal invitation to all 123 newly elected members of the National Assembly, but officials of the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties, representing 29 seats, have maintained their position that July's election was illegitimate and say they will not swear in next to the ruling party.

The opposition has instead requested an alternate date to swear in, a day later, according to top officials from both parties.

Neither party is willing to be sworn in next to the ruling Cambodian People's Party, said Kong Kom, acting president of the Sam Rainsy Party, and Yem Ponhearith, secretary-general of the Human Rights Party.

Party leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha are currently out of the country, seeking support from the international community for claims July's election was fraudulent and a new vote should be conducted.

Both party leaders have said in the past they would boycott the swearing-in ceremony altogether.

A royal official warned Wednesday the request for a second swearing in was not likely to be granted.

"The king, as the head of state, invited all 123 elected parliamentarians to the swearing-in ceremony on [Sept. 24]," Um Daravuth, a member of the Royal Cabinet, said Wednesday. "If any party does not respect the king's orders, I say that party is wrong under the Cambodian constitution."

"In no country in the world does a National Assembly swear in two times," Um Daravuth said.

An independent analyst said Wednesday it was up to the king to bring the parties together.

"The king should use his cleverness to bring all the parties to join the swearing-in together for national unity," said Lao Monghay, a researcher for the Asian Human Rights Commission.