Cambodian king urges opposition to join parliament

Cambodian king urges opposition to join parliament
King Norodom Sihamoni.

PHNOM PENH - Cambodia's king appealed to opposition lawmakers Wednesday to drop a planned boycott of parliament for the sake of "national unity" following strongman premier Hun Sen's disputed election win.

In a royal letter - seen by AFP - to 55 elected opposition lawmakers, King Norodom Sihamoni said he would preside over the first meeting of the lower house on Monday.

"I would like to invite his and her excellencies to attend the first meeting of the National Assembly in order to show national unification and unity," Sihamoni said.

Opposition officials could not be reached immediately for comment.

It is the first time that Sihamoni has intervened to resolve a political crisis since he took the throne in 2004. While he is the official head of state, he has no political power.

In the past his father, former King Norodom Sihanouk, actively intervened to resolve political deadlock, particularly after elections.

The royal message came a day after Cambodia's two main political parties said they were nearing an agreement to end a stalemate over controversial elections held in July.

Hun Sen, who has ruled for 28 years, held talks with opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Tuesday for a second straight day in the wake of violent clashes at the weekend in which one civilian was shot dead and several wounded.

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