The opposition CNRP on Sunday set new conditions for ending nearly two months of political deadlock over the national election that both it and the ruling CPP claim to have won, ahead of scheduled negotiations between the two parties this morning.
The opposition is now demanding reforms to the National Election Committee (NEC), a new national voter registry, and its own television station in order for negotiations to move forward.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann announced the opposition’s conditions to a crowd of tens of thou- sands of supporters protesting in central Phnom Penh against the official results of the July 28 poll, which the CPP won despite unre- solved reports of widespread voting-day irregularities.
“For tomorrow’s meeting we will focus first on the NEC, second on the creation of a new voter list and third on the creation of a television station,” Mr. Sovann said to loud cheers from the massive crowd.
“This will be the CNRP’s television station,” he added. “We will broadcast what is true and let the others exaggerate the news.”
The opposition, along with rights groups and election monitors, have long complained about the local media, most of which is either owned by the CPP or party sympathizers and which regularly ignores, downplays or skews coverage of the opposition.
The same groups have also rebuked the NEC, stacked with former CPP officials, for consis- tently favoring the ruling party. Heading into July’s poll, monitors who audited the voter list said it was even more flawed than the one in 2008 and threatened to dis- enfranchise more than one mil- lion people.
All three issues—a pro-CPP media, biased NEC and flawed voter roll—resulted in the CNRP being robbed of a rightful victory this year, the party contends.
“The CPP will be knocked out if the NEC doesn’t help them,” Mr. Sovann said.
Mr. Sovann made no mention Sunday of the CNRP’s original, long-running demand for an impartial investigation of July’s vote. But fellow opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua assured the crowd that the party was still insisting on a proper count.
The opposition has threatened to boycott the scheduled opening of the National Assembly later this month in the absence of an impartial investigation, a condition Ms. Sochua stood by Sunday.
“We can go to the National Assembly on September 23 as long as we get the votes counted correctly,” she told the crowd to more cheers. “I want to swear before all of you that I will not work with people who stole our votes but stay with all of you here in this park to demand a solution.”
The CPP and CNRP agreed to this morning’s negotiations—which will be led by Prime Minister Hun Sen and CNRP president Sam Rainsy and are aimed at finding a way to avoid a boycott—during a brief meeting with King Norodom Sihamoni at the Royal Palace on Saturday.
Cheang Vun, CPP lawmaker and National Assembly spokesman, declined to comment on the CNRP’s latest requests, while Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Saturday expressed disappointment that the opposition intended protests to go ahead in spite of to- day’s negotiations.