Sam Rainsy, Sar Kheng to Meet Over 2017 Commune Elections

Interior Minister Sar Kheng said Thursday that he would meet opposition leader Sam Rainsy at the National Assembly next week to hammer out an agreement over the schedule and scope of the 2017 commune elections.

Attending a service in Phnom Penh to mark the 100th day since former CPP President Chea Sim died, Mr. Kheng said that he and Mr. Rainsy, who are the parliamentary leaders of the CPP and CNRP, respectively, were seeking to meet for discussions.

“A moment ago I met with Sam Rainsy. Firstly, he was here to participate in the [100-day] funeral ceremony, so I thanked him. And, secondly, I accepted a letter from Sam Rainsy,” Mr. Kheng said after the ceremony.

“After I get agreement from the party leaders, I will meet him after the funeral, and that could be next week.”

Asked what would be discussed at the meeting, Mr. Kheng said it would be the 2017 commune elections.

CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith said that the meeting had yet to be scheduled.

“It is true they plan to meet next week, but no specific date has been set,” Mr. Ponhearith said. “The key points are mainly the matter of [commune] council election law and the internal rules of the National Assembly.”

Mr. Ponhearith said the discussion would focus on the rights of the CNRP as the official “minority group,” a position created last year in a deal with the CPP.

Commune council elections were tentatively scheduled for February 2017 after Prime Minister Hun Sen promised to move the national election to February 2018, an agreement on which he reneged this year. No one in the government has since announced whether the commune elections would also be moved to July.

Mr. Ponhearith said he hoped the negotiations would result in set dates for the commune elections and the campaign period. The CPP wants the campaign to last 10 days, while the CNRP is pushing for 15.

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