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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 September, 2003, 06:33 GMT 07:33 UK
Cambodia king shuns parliament
King Sihanouk
King Sihanouk refused to preside because of the political bickering
The Cambodian parliament has begun its new session, attended only by representatives of the ruling Cambodian People's Party of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

King Norodom Sihanouk declined to preside over the opening ceremony, after opposition parties staged a boycott in protest at the running of the general election in July.

The main opposition Sam Rainsy Party and the royalist Funcinpec Party said the ballot was unfair and balanced in favour of Hun Sen's party.

The Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won 73 seats but fell short of the two-thirds majority required to be able to confirm an administration.


Both opposition parties, with a combined 50 seats, are refusing to consider any form of coalition with Hun Sen.

They are calling instead for a tripartite government without Hun Sen as leader.

CPP President Chea Sim presided over the brief session in place of King Sihanouk, after chaos arose when it appeared the king might appear at the assembly hall.

Chea Sim said forming a new government was "an immediate task of all lawmakers in their new term".

"Our national dignity and prestige is resting in the hands of the new national assembly which must race against time to create a new government... as quickly as possible," he added.

Hun Sen, who also attended the ceremony, left without making a statement.

The BBC's Peter Greste
"This was supposed to be the triumphant beginning of the country's new administration"

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