Little Progress After Bi-Party Commune Election Meeting

After more than an hour discussing the CPP and CNRP’s differences over how the 2017 commune elections will be run, Interior Minister Sar Kheng and opposition leader Sam Rainsy emerged from a meeting at the National Assembly with little result Wednesday evening.

The meeting between the parties’ official parliamentary leaders was called to deal with discord over when the coming commune elections should be held, the voter registration process, the length of the campaign period and the rules of campaigning.

The law on commune council elections currently requires amendment and re-approval by the National Assembly because it refers to parts of the national election law that was itself rewritten earlier this year, requiring the two parties to come together to redraft some of its provisions.

However, CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang, who spoke to reporters on behalf of Mr. Rainsy on Wednesday, said the task had not gotten off to a positive start, with the two leaders coming to realize how much they disagree.

“The two leaders have studied and understood that the two working groups have not agreed on the remaining points,” Mr. Chhay Eang said.

“The two top leaders will take these remaining points to study and find a common solution next time,” he said, adding that they would meet again next week.

Interior Ministry Secretary of State Sak Setha, who spoke on behalf of Mr. Kheng, said that both parties in fact agree on most parts of the new commune elections law and only differed on a few points.

“The working groups of the two parties have almost agreed completely over the draft law but some points remain,” he said.

“The commune election draft law had 196 articles, and there are only five remaining points concerning three or four of those articles,” he added. “Therefore, if we consider it as a percentage, it is only about 2 percent problems.”

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