The opposition CNRP on Saturday denied remarks made by Information Minister Khieu Kanharith claiming that the ruling CPP and CNRP had met on Friday in part to discuss how power would be shared in the National Assembly during the next mandate.
Mr. Kanharith said Saturday that apart from discussions about how the two parties would resolve alleged election irregularities, the two sides also “talked about the division of seats in the National Assembly to determine who will be in charge of which [National Assembly] commissions.”
Speaking to reporters following the closing ceremony of a journalism training course in Phnom Penh, Mr. Kanharith also claimed that the two sides had agreed to allow the National Election Committee (NEC) to lead an investigation into electoral flaws and what the CNRP claims was widespread fraud orchestrated by the CPP.
“The Cambodian government did not allow the U.N. to chair the committee…actually the NEC will chair the committee and the U.N. can be observers,” said Mr. Kanharith, who was first to release initial claims of a CPP victory in last month’s election.
Both statements diverged from the CNRP’s negotiating position. The opposition party has said that it will not accept any investigation led by the NEC, and that it will not discuss the organization of Parliament until an impartial investigation into voting irregularities has been conducted.
In a statement released Saturday afternoon, the CNRP said that the actual discussion “contradicted [Mr.] Kanharith’s comments,” which the party said were “exaggerating and inciting for political gains.”
“The CNRP working group and CPP met on August 9, 2013, at the National Assembly to discuss creating a specialist group to investigate irregularities during the election only,” the statement says.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, who was among the three members of the ruling party who took part in the talks, also said yesterday that Mr. Kanharith’s characterization of the discussion was inaccurate.
“We did not discuss seats in the National Assembly. We just discussed the special committee,” Mr. Yeap said.