CNRP Agrees to Take National Assembly Seats

The opposition CNRP has agreed to take its 55 seats in the National Assembly in exchange for an overhaul of the electoral commission that it accuses of rigging last year’s national election in favor of the ruling CPP, according a joint statement issued by the parties after talks on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy finalized the deal during negotiations that lasted from 9 a.m. to about 2 p.m.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, left center, shakes hands with Prime Minister Hun Sen after the parties finalized an agreement Tuesday to end the country's nearly yearlong political deadlock. (Alex Willemyns/The Cambodia Daily)
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, left center, shakes hands with Prime Minister Hun Sen after the parties finalized an agreement Tuesday to end the country’s nearly yearlong political deadlock. (Alex Willemyns/The Cambodia Daily)

“The two parties agree on a political resolution by working together in the National Assembly institution in order to reach solutions for various national issues in accordance with democracy and the state of law,” the statement says.

CNRP chief whip Son Chhay confirmed that the agreement meant that the opposition party would take its seats in parliament, which it has been boycotting since September. CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that the party would take its seats “soon,” but would not elaborate.

The statement issued by the parties after the meeting says that the new National Election Committee will have nine members: four selected by the CPP, four by the CNRP and a ninth member elected by members of the National Assembly. The statement does not say how the ninth member will be elected.

The agreement says that the National Assembly will still presided over by the ruling CPP, and that the ruling party will maintain 7 seats on the assembly’s 13-member permanent committee.

Seven CNRP lawmakers-elect and a party activist remained in prison when the deal was struck, facing charges of leading an insurrection and incitement to commit a felony over their alleged role in a violent protest near Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on June 15.

Sam Sokong, a lawyer on the CNRP’s defense team, said from Prey Sar prison that the opposition officials will be released Tuesday afternoon.

“It is confirmed that the court will release them today,” Mr. Sokong said at about 3 p.m.

“Now the court is in the process of registering the number of the release warrant,” he said. “So the warrant will arrive at Prey Sar prison in about a half hour.”

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