Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who on Tuesday struck a deal with Prime Minister Hun Sen to end the CNRP’s boycott of the National Assembly, said on Friday the party will swear its 55 elected lawmakers into parliament on Tuesday only if details of the plan to overhaul the country’s electoral commission are hammered out beforehand.
CNRP President Sam Rainsy and CPP Interior Minister Sar Kheng spoke by telephone on Friday and have agreed to a meeting between the two parties on Tuesday, the minister said, a day after it appeared that lines of communication between the two sides had broken down.
Mr. Kheng said he spoke with Mr. Rainsy, who called him at about 11 a.m. to discuss the three points of reform the CNRP is proposing as a precondition to ending the current political stalemate: the adoption of U.N. election recommendations, the resignation of NEC officials and an impartial investigation into alleged election irregularities during the July ballot.
“We agreed with each other, so we will meet on Tuesday next week at 9 a.m. at the National Assembly,” Mr. Kheng said.
“Sam Rainsy called me at 11 a.m., and about 15 minutes later, I called him back. This meeting will be about reforms of the national elections in accordance with a joint agreement by both parties announced on September 16,” when it was decided that the CPP and CNRP would keep negotiating.
Mr. Kheng said it is in the best interests of both parties to “reach a successful result” in the talks, but he said he is unsure how long Tuesday’s meeting would last.
“I think we will continue to meet until both parties have a good result,” he added.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said he would not comment on the content of the upcoming discussions.
“The CNRP has appointed five officials [to attend the talks]; me, Son Chhay, Eng Chhay Eang, Yem Ponhearith and Kuy Bunroeun.
“The CNRP requested the CPP to have a public meeting, but the CPP did not agree because they said it is a technical meeting,” Mr. Sovann said.
The CPP delegation heading to the talks will include Interior Ministry secretaries of state Prum Sokha and Sak Sitha, Justice Ministry Secretary of State Keut Rith, CPP Cabinet Chief Som Soeun and undersecretary of state Leng Vy.
“After this meeting, the top leaders from both parties” will attend a separate meeting, Mr. Kheng said.
On Thursday, some wondered if communication between the party leaders had broken off when Mr. Rainsy tried to call the interior minister during a press conference, only to be unable to reach him. Further calls made by Mr. Rainsy throughout the day were also unsuccessful.
Kem Ley, an independent social analyst and researcher with the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said that while he is hopeful that the two parties will be able to map out a path toward electoral reform, it would not change how the country is run between now and the next national election.
“I hope the two parties will come to an agreement and the CNRP will join the National Assembly.
“But even if the CNRP agrees and the CPP agrees to investigate irregularities and study the system of the election…everything still stays the same,” he said.
“Realistically, the injustices and human rights violations will happen again and again.”
(Additional reporting by Lauren Crothers)
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