CPP Says ‘Too Late’ for Joint Investigation Into Election

CPP lawmaker and de facto party spokesman Cheam Yeap said yesterday it was now “too late” to form an independent committee to investigate alleged irregularities during last month’s national election and that the opposition CNRP needs to be “more flexible” in its relationship with the ruling party.

But opposition leader Sam Rainsy said the CNRP was al­ready seeking advice on how to go about conducting nationwide protests peacefully come Septem­ber 8 when the official election results are handed down.

“It is too late [to create a special committee]. We [the CPP] are the winning person, we cannot bow to the person who did not win. So the person who did not win must be flexible in their relationship with the winning person,” Mr. Yeap said.

“If [the CNRP] doesn’t believe in the NEC and Constitutional Council, why participate in the election?” he added, referring to the two bodies responsible for investigating allegations of irregularities at the polls.

The comments from Mr. Yeap came a day after the CNRP told more than 10,000 supporters at a rally in Phnom Penh that it would hold mass demonstrations within two weeks unless the CPP works with the opposition to form a committee to probe irregularities in the July 28 election.

Mr. Yeap headed a ruling party delegation that met with CNRP representatives for an initial round of talks on August 9, when both sides agreed in principle to the formation of an ad hoc investigation commission.

However, the two sides reached an impasse over the composition of the committee. The CPP has said only the National Election Committee (NEC) has the authority to head such an investigation, while the CNRP alleges that it was the NEC, along with the CPP, that committed the alleged electoral fraud and manipulation that needs to be investigated.

Mr. Rainsy said yesterday that with prospects for a political deal look­ing dim as the September 8 deadline for the release of official election results looms, the CNRP was reaching out to experts on peaceful protests and civil disobedience.

“I am seeking advice and proposals for training to conduct peaceful demonstrations. There are techniques to ensure discipline, to not be exposed to violence and how to behave. I will accept experts in nonviolent demonstrations who will train us in the next couple days,” Mr. Rainsy said.

One of the opposition’s main fears is that the CPP will attempt to infiltrate the protests in order to make them appear less than peaceful, Mr. Rainsy explained.

“I am concerned by possible action of infiltrating agents who would provoke. We have to be very careful. If the situation gets out of control we will lose what we have acquired through the election. Despite the irregularities, we have earned a strong basis to push our democratic agenda. We don’t want to lose that,” he said.

Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said that he hoped the CNRP and CPP would reach a political deal to avoid the CNRP having to resort to unsanctioned demonstrations.

“The problem is something to be solved [politically]. No problem exists that cannot be solved,” he said, adding that he believed that the CNRP also wanted to avoid illegal demonstrations that could threaten stability.

“I think the CNRP also would like to have peace in the country at the present time. I don’t think the CNRP wants to make Cambodia go into hell like some countries in the Middle East,” Lt. Gen. Sopheak said.

“I think that as long as the rally or protest is within the framework of the law, it would be OK. But when any activity is unlawful, only the law can solve it,” he added.

In the aftermath of the election, the government moved armored personnel carriers and tanks close to Phnom Penh, though there has been no sign of the equipment since.

Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA new weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.