More than six weeks since the ruling CPP and CNRP last met, and failed, to break the post-election political impasse, representatives from both parties restarted negotiations Tuesday at the National Assembly, but came nowhere near to settling their differences.
While the CNRP is still demanding an investigation into alleged irregularities during the July 28 national election as well as sweeping electoral reforms, the CPP negotiators denied there were any faults in the management of the disputed ballot.
Following more than three hours of talks, Prum Sokha, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, who led the CPP’s five-member delegation, said the CNRP had no proof to substantiate its claims that the election was flawed.
“The so-called ‘irregularities’ [in the election] are just invented, initiated and called [irregularities] by the opposition,” Mr. Sokha told reporters after the meeting.
Regarding the CNRP’s demands for a transparent investigation into July’s election and the resignation of the nine-member National Election Committee (NEC), Mr. Sokha said that the CPP would only discuss a mechanism to future reform of the electoral system, which had already been agreed to during the last talks in September.
“Even though the CNRP set the agenda for talking this time, we ultimately focused on the agenda that the top leaders discussed [in September]—the agreement to reform the National Election Committee for future elections,” Mr. Sokha said.
“After we talk about the election framework, we can see what happens. But everything should go through the legal process and procedure. You cannot go outside the law,” he continued.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann, who led the opposition delegation, said the CPP’s refusal to talk about a substantive investigating of election irregularities or replacing NEC officials prevented the two sides from issuing a statement after the talks.
“The CPP doesn’t want to talk about the first two points raised by CNRP. They want to focus on electoral reform for the future,” he said.
Mr. Sovann said the CPP was “alone” in its belief that there were no election-day irregularities to investigate.
“The problems that occurred on the 28th of July [have been] raised by many stakeholders: CNRP voters, the international community, the U.N., NDI [National Democratic Institute] and other NGOs,” he said.
Election monitors have raised concerns that the number of disenfranchised voters in July—estimated at up to a third of the electorate—could have significantly skewed the election results.
Mr. Sovann also said that the CNRP’s participation in parliament was not discussed during the talks. The CNRP’s 55 lawmakers-elect are currently boycotting the National Assembly.
“We did not talk about attending the National Assembly session at the meeting today and I would like to declare that the CNRP will not attend the National Assembly session if there is no clear solution,” he said.
Mr. Sokha said that there would be another meeting this week, but he declined to provide a specific date.
“We will continue to talk in the next few days,” he said.