Prime Minister Hun Sen told a local media outlet on Sunday that the ruling CPP would not engage in any talks with the opposition CNRP over the jailing of its officials and supporters or recent moves by police to arrest deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha.
The online Fresh News service, which Mr. Hun Sen often praises, quoted him as saying: “No negotiations will happen between the CPP and the CNRP in the coming period,” before explaining the prime minister’s reasoning.
“Samdech Techo Hun Sen clarified clearly that: 1. There will be no negotiations between the CPP and CNRP in the upcoming period because if there are negotiations it will influence the court processes,” the article said.
“2. If there are any negotiations in the upcoming period, the CPP will not discuss any cases that are under the authorities of the courts, and will also not discuss the case of the prisoners,” it added.
The CNRP has called for talks with the CPP but has refused the ruling party’s requests for them to send a formal letter outlining what they want to discuss. In the past year alone, more than 20 government critics have been jailed, including more than a dozen opposition figures.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said by telephone on Sunday that he still hoped there could be negotiations, and said that he could see no other way out from the present predicament.
“The CNRP’s stance is that we are working hard to resolve the political issues and pull the political situation to be as normal as possible for the national elections in the upcoming period,” Mr. Sovann said.
“If politics is still cloudy like this, we are worried about the next election….The political situation at the moment is the worst,” he added.
“We need to solve it. But whatever the CPP understands, that’s their business. If problems happen later, that is the responsibility of the political leaders. The good thing is to resolve things together.”
Today and Tuesday, the CNRP plans to collect what it hopes are hundreds of thousands of thumbprints on a second petition calling for King Norodom Sihamoni to intervene and end the CPP’s assault on the opposition.
Outside the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh on Sunday, opposition Senator Teav Vannol called for supporters to come and protect Mr. Sokha against another possible arrest attempt.
“June 14, as you know, is the date that the municipal court has summoned acting [CNRP] president Kem Sokha to appear in court,” Mr. Vannol said. “We appeal to you as Khmers or as party activists to come to the CNRP’s headquarters to observe the situation.”