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Cambodian Prince on Hunger Strike Over Political Deadlock

Senior member of National Rescue Party Prince Sisowath Thomico, center, poses for photographs with villagers during his visit to Boeung Kak lake, in Phnom Penh, Aug. 5, 2013.
WASHINGTON DC - The cousin of Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni has gone on a hunger strike to pressure the government to find a solution to the country's political crisis.

Prince Sisowath Thomico, an opposition member, accuses Cambodia's long-time ruling party of cheating in July elections that returned Prime Minister Hun Sen to power.

"I'm here today to do a hunger strike to pressure the government, and to find justice for Cambodian voters, after they did not get free and fair elections in July," he said.

The opposition says it will boycott Monday's opening session of parliament unless the government agrees to an independent election probe.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Friday said his Cambodian National Rescue Party will not call off the boycott, unless a last-minute deal is reached.

"The last stance of the Cambodian National Rescue Party regarding the opening session of the new parliament on September 23 is that we will not be attending," he said.

Several recent meetings between Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen have reportedly brought the two sides closer together, but have failed to break the deadlock.

Thousands of opposition protesters rallied this week in Phnom Penh. The opposition says one person was killed when police opened fire on the crowd. Rainsy's group on Friday said it could hold more protests if the crisis is not resolved.

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