PHNOM PENH - More than 150 monks gathered together on Thursday to submit a petition to the Royal Palace, asking King Norodom Sihamoni to postpone a National Assembly session on Sept. 23 that the opposition has threatened to boycott.
The session is meant to ratify the July 28 election, which opposition leaders say they lost due to irregularities and fraud, and mark the formation of a new government.
It will be presided over by the king, who has declined a request by the opposition to postpone, setting up a potential boycott that could prolong Cambodia’s post-election political crisis.
The monks were stopped by security forces, who had blocked the roads surrounding the palace. The monks then sat in front of the barricades, meditating for hours, into evening.
“The main purpose is to bring a petition to King Norodom Sihamoni to delay the first parliamentary meeting,” Buth Buntenh, a monk and university lecturer, told VOA Khmer. “We’re calling on him to reconsider his previous royal decree for the sake of national unity.”
Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, condemned the police for stopping the monks from delivering their petition.
“The constitution protects the rights of citizens, including monks, for freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly,” he said.
Some members of the public joined the monks in the meditation. Some attempted to hand lotus flowers to police, who rejected the overture.