As countries in the region congratulated Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People’s Party in its historic election win, the former main opposition party released a statement yesterday challenging the legitimacy of his candidacy as Prime Minister.
The win was officially recognised by Vietnam on Saturday.
Through its Foreign Ministry, the Vietnamese government in Hanoi congratulated Mr Hun Sen’s re-appointment by King Norodom Sihanouk as Prime Minister.
Le Thi Thu Hang, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said on Saturday that Cambodia is a close friend of Vietnam and that it will continue to work with Cambodia to maintain stability and economic development in the region.
“Vietnam believes that once established, the new National Assembly and the government of Cambodia, will continue to lead the country by contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and development in Southeast Asia and the world,” Ms Thu Hang said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen was re-appointed by King Norodom Sihamoni on Friday, just two days after the official election result was announced by the National Election Committee, a decision that prompted criticism by former Cambodian National Rescue Party members.
In a statement released yesterday, the dissolved CNRP accused Mr Hun Sen and the CPP of forcing the hand of a royal institution in order to legitimise Mr Hun Sen as Prime Minister.
“The CNRP will not recognise the National Assembly and the government that come from a sham election with no legitimacy,” the statement said. “The establishment will be isolated without being internationally recognised and it cannot be a legitimate representative of the Cambodian people on the international stage.”
In response, Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan said that according to Article 4 of the constitution, a majority party could submit their candidate and the King will designate their candidate as Prime Minister.
“The fact is that the King appoints the premier and then the National Assembly will conduct a vote of confidence, as in accordance to the constitution of the Kingdom,” Mr Eysan said. “If we didn’t prepare in advance, what would the government composition be and what are members of the National Assembly supposed to vote for?”
Sok Sam Oeun, a legal expert, said that technically, the King appointed Mr Hun Sen as Prime Minister in order to form a government.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen will receive an official nomination from the National Assembly once it has been established,” Mr Sam Oeun said.
Mr Hun Sen must form a cabinet for the approval by the National Assembly on September 5 prior to forming the new government on September 6. The first Council of Ministers meeting will commence the next day.