EU Ambassador Meets Sok An, Says CNRP Should Take Seats

Popular online news website CEN (Cambodia Express News) reported Wednesday that European Union (E.U.) Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain told CPP Deputy Prime Minister Sok An that the E.U. wished to see the opposition CNRP take their seats in the National Assembly.

Mr. Cautain’s comments were made during a meeting with the deputy prime minister at the Council of Ministers Wednesday morning, CEN reported.

“Mr. Jean Francois Cautin [sic], E.U. ambassador in Cambodia, has showed that his stance is to see the two winning parties sit together in the assembly to improve democracy in Cambodia,” CEN reported.

The 123-seat National Assembly was convened on September 23 with only Prime Minister Hun Sen’s 68 CPP lawmakers in attendance.

The CNRP has vowed to boycott parliament until the CPP agrees to implement a host of reforms and conduct an independent investigation into alleged irregularities during the July national election.

Pok Poun, the E.U. delegation’s press officer, confirmed that Mr. Cautain and Mr. An had met.

“The E.U. Ambassador stress­ed that the National Assembly cannot serve its purpose without the participation of all elected parties and that elected parties shall cooperate so that the mandate given to the National Assembly by the Cambodian people can be fulfilled,” Ms. Poun said in an email.

CNRP chief whip Son Chhay said further negotiations with the ruling CPP, and compromises by it, were necessary before the opposition would consider taking their seats.

“We want to see the CPP settle the problem. This position is not just us. It is the position of the E.U. and U.S. We are willing to take part in meetings but the compromise must happen before we take part, otherwise the problems will stay in place,” he said.

“If the CPP do not want an investigation to clear their name of election fraud, they ought to settle the problem by giving us some positions to ensure checks and balances.”

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the E.U. ambassador “wants to see the opposition party take their seats and [for there to be] a compromise between the parties.”

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