CNRP Statement Reassures Critics Party Is Against Xenophobia

The opposition CNRP on Wednesday sought to reassure critics who have labeled the party xenophobic or racist, releasing a statement clarifying for the first time their position as a peaceful and tolerant party.

“The CNRP opposes violence, racism, xenophobia and discrimination,” the statement says, adding somewhat ambiguously that the party intends to “address issues related to the presence of foreigners in Cambodia via measures furthering the aims of the 1991 Paris Agreements.”

The CNRP had been criticized for its use of racially charged, anti-Vietnamese rhetoric to win political points in the run-up to the election, which has stoked fear among ethnic Vietnamese living in the country.

Asked Wednesday whether the statement was meant to assure the international community of its commitment to inclusive and non-racial policies, CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann denied that his party harbored any prejudices.

“The CNRP does not have any policies against any nationalities, however, any democratic country with immigration laws must have those laws implemented correctly,” he said.

The statement, titled CNRP Position on Elections Democracy and Human Rights, also reiterated the party’s commitment to finding a peaceful solution for last month’s contested election—which both they and the ruling party claim to have won.

Mr. Sovann said that the timing of the press release was intended to communicate clearly that his party is fully committed to trying to resolve the current impasse amid the perceived unwillingness of the government to address evidence of serious electoral irregularities.

“There is still time. We have until September 8 and we believe we can negotiate a solution so we have invited the CPP to come to the table,” Mr. Sovann said, adding that a proper investigation was still necessary before its members take their seats in the National Assembly, otherwise the problems would continue on to the next election.

The statement also called for the government to ensure the right of Cambodians to freedom of assembly. The opposition is planning a mass rally for September 7.

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