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Cambodia's parliament to convene in September after controversial vote

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By Reuters
Cambodia's parliament to convene in September after controversial vote
FILE PHOTO: Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (C) attends an inauguration of a new boat terminal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia August 1, 2018. REUTERS/Samrang Pring   -   Copyright  SAMRANG PRING(Reuters)

PHNOMPENH (Reuters) – Cambodia’s parliament will convene on September 5, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Wednesday, after his ruling party claimed victory in what critics say was a sham general election last month due to the lack of a viable opposition.

Parliament’s opening session will be presided over by King Norodom Sihamoni, Hun Sen said.

“The King will invite all members elect of the National Assembly for the first session,” Hun Sen told thousands of factory workers in Kampong Speu province, 50 km (30 miles) southwest of the capital Phnom Penh on Wednesday.

Although official results won’t be announced until mid-August, Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) said it had won all 125 parliamentary seats following the July 29 vote.

Critics say a campaign of intimidation by Hun Sen and his allies preceded the vote.

The election, the country’s sixth since democracy was restored in 1993, followed the dissolution of the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and a crackdown on activists, independent media and opposition politicians.

CNRP leader Kem Sokha was jailed on treason charges in September. He remains in pre-trial detention.

The government will hold its first cabinet meeting on Sept 7, Hun Sen said on Wednesday.

On Monday, Hun Sen said that he wanted to give a speech to the United Nations’ General Assembly in September to show the world that Cambodia does not need outside approval.

Hun Sen last gave a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September 2015 where he called on developed nations to fulfill their foreign aid pledges.

(Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre)