Rainsy Lays Out Demands for Next Round of Negotiations

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Sunday said that the CNRP would formally appeal to the CPP this week to resume negotiations to end the ongoing political deadlock, but said that the CPP would have to meet the CNRP’s conditions for a new round of talks.

“Now that demonstrations finished on Friday, we will respond to the CPP in the next few days,” Mr. Rainsy said, adding that the CNRP would put forward three preconditions for the resumption of talks.

Firstly, the CNRP lawmakers will not take their seats in parliament, as demanded by the CPP, before the talks are held, he said. The nine-member National Election Com­mittee (NEC) must resign, he continued, adding that other government reforms must be based on recommendations made by Surya Subedi, the U.N.’s special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia.

“Before the start of any negotiation, we want the current NEC leadership to resign,” he said.

“We want the CPP to agree that this discussion is not in the Na­tional Assembly, they must not think we will join the National Assembly first,” he added.

As for a much-publicized election reform seminar that the government has scheduled for December, Mr. Rainsy said that it was not necessary, as various groups, including the U.N., European Union, the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute and the local Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, have already put forth numerous recommendations on how the electoral process must be restructured to meet international standards.

“We will tell the CPP there is no need to organize a seminar to gather opinions because the CPP knows many opinions have already been discussed by civil society. Let’s not waste time to collect opinions,” Mr. Rainsy said.

Cheam Yeap, a senior lawmaker and spokesman for the CPP, reiterated Sudnay that the CPP would not sit down with the CNRP for further negotiations until their 55 elected lawmakers have gone to the Royal Palace to swear in as members of the National Assembly, ending their ongoing boycott of parliament.

“We don’t have to bow our heads and talk with the losers,” Mr. Yeap said. “We, the winners of the election, will not ask the losers [to resume negotiations] first, but the losers have to be flexible [if they want to continue talks],” Mr. Yeap said.

“With negotiations or without negotiations, we just have to keep moving forward.”

After an initial round of negotiations, held on September 16 and 17, leaders of the CPP and CNRP agreed that the electoral system needed to be reformed. However, no specific reforms were settled upon, and the CNRP has had little success in its efforts to form a joint commission with the CPP to investigate the July 28 ballot.

Following the CNRP’s three-day demonstration that finished on Friday, Mr. Hun Sen during a Cabinet meeting congratulated government authorities and CNRP supporters for avoiding violence during the protests, according to a statement released by the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit.

“[Mr. Hun Sen] would like to ex­tend his admiration to the demonstrators and their leaders, who maintained good cooperation with all levels of authorities to avoid any irregular activities,” the statement says.

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