CPP Agrees to Long-Awaited Meeting with CNRP—Later

Interior Minister Sar Kheng has agreed to a long-delayed meeting with acting CNRP president Kem Sokha to discuss pressing issues between the opposition parties, likely including the release of four jailed rights workers, but he’s still not ready to set a date.

Mr. Sokha, who received a royal pardon in early December and finally left his refuge at CNRP headquarters, asked for a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Kheng, who heads the CPP’s parliamentary group, in a letter dated Thursday, but released on Friday.

cam photo meeting channa 1
Interior Minister Sar Kheng, center, and acting CNRP president Kem Sokha, right, greet each other at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh last year. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“I hope that the leaders of CPP’s lawmakers will give the value of dialogue between our two parties with seats at the National Assembly in order to jointly address with peace the nation’s and the people’s issues in compliance to the wishes of public,” Mr. Sokha’s letter said.

The request followed a December 7 discussion between Mr. Sokha and Prime Minister Hun Sen, which observers had expected would put the wheels in motion for the release of four officers from rights group Adhoc and an election official.

At the time, Mr. Kheng had said, “Maybe by the end of December there will be a resolution of the cases of human rights officials and the deputy secretary-general of the NEC.”

Weeks later, though, no meeting to discuss the release and other issues had occurred, with Mr. Kheng citing his busy end-of-the-year schedule. He repeated that refrain on Thursday in his reply to Mr. Sokha.

“But I hope that the meeting for talks between the two parties could be held after the 11th January, 2017,” Mr. Kheng said.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said on Friday it was too early to comment on what topics would be discussed at the meeting since no details had yet been decided. “Let’s wait and see since the agenda, the date and composition of the delegation have not yet been arranged,” he said.

Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the CNRP, couldn’t be reached for comment.

The four Adhoc officials—Lim Mony, Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha and Yi Soksan—and election official Ny Chakrya, who previously worked for Adhoc, have now been in prison for 253 days without a trial.

International human rights and legal groups have condemned the case, and local rights group Licadho includes the five on its list of 27 political prisoners in the country.

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