Talks Between Political Parties Prove Fruitless—Again

There has been no progress in negotiations to form a commission to investigate irregularities in the national election, representatives of the ruling CPP and opposition CNRP said Tuesday after a three-hour meeting at the National Assembly.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting took place, CNRP chief whip Son Chhay said he doubted that the committee would be formed before September 8, when final election results are set to be released.

CPP secretary of state Prum Sokha, right, and CNRP lawmker Son Chhay speak with reporters on Tuesday after holding talks at the National Assembly to form a commission to investigate irregularities in the national election. (Siv Channa)
CPP secretary of state Prum Sokha, right, and CNRP lawmker Son Chhay speak with reporters on Tuesday after holding talks at the National Assembly to form a commission to investigate irregularities in the national election. (Siv Channa)

“We were hoping that we would get information on which group [the CPP] wants to choose” to conduct the investigation, Mr. Chhay said, adding that the CPP representatives present at the meeting had again said they need to meet with leaders about the conditions of the joint committee before it could be formed.

“It is up to the CPP to make a commitment to solve this problem,” Mr. Chhay said.

However, Prum Sokha, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior who led the CPP’s delegation, said the mere fact the meeting took place was proof of progress in the two parties’ efforts to break the current political impasse.

“The important thing is that the working groups of both parties came and met today. It shows that we have the mutual will to solve the problem concerning the July 28 general election,” Mr. Sokha said.

“The working group of both parties will inform our leaders of both parties to get advice and look into the possibility to meet again,” he added.

During the first round of talks at the National Assembly on August 9, the CPP and CNRP agreed in principle to form the committee, and for the U.N. to monitor the investigation, but said they would speak with party leaders about which group might actually conduct the investigation.

The CNRP claims that widespread electoral manipulation and voter fraud was engineered by the CPP in cooperation with the National Election Committee (NEC), and has refused to accept the results of any investigation conducted or led by the NEC, which the CPP says is the only body with the legal authority to settle election disputes.

The CNRP has said it would consider independent election monitors and civil society bodies to head the investigation, while the CPP has previously said it would only participate in an investigation led by the NEC.

Mr. Sokha said Tuesday that the CPP “strongly believes that we can reach a political solution, but any political solution shall be solved under existing laws and under the Constitution,” but declined to elaborate on what this solution might be.

With less than three weeks before final election results are set to be released, and just more than a month before a new government is supposed to be formed, the CPP has given no indication that it is willing to give in to CNRP demands that a transparent investigation into election irregularities is conducted by an impartial group.

The NEC on Sunday announced that it had rejected 17 complaints into electoral irregularities submitted by the CNRP, and NEC President Im Suosdey said that the NEC will no longer be involved in mediating between the CPP and CNRP over the contested election.

Even though both Mr. Chhay and Mr. Sokha said that they would continue to work toward a political solution, the parties have still laid out their options should negotiations fail.

In his last public speech, delivered on August 2, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that should the CNRP boycott the National Assembly in protest against election results, their seats would legally be given to the CPP, the only other party that was voted into Parliament.

Should the CNRP decide not to take an oath of office and validate the National Assembly when it is convened next month, Mr. Hun Sen promised to push ahead with forming the leadership structure of the National Assembly and approving a ministerial cabinet.

Mr. Chhay said after Tuesday’s meeting that the CNRP at least had the opportunity during the talks to express to the CPP that it has no intention of backing down from its demand for an independent investigation, and hoped the CPP would make real efforts to cooperate in finding a solution acceptable to both parties before people “lose hope and go to the streets.”

“The people today are not afraid of any intimidation. They dare to stand up at any time, but we are doing the country a favor in asking them to wait until everything is done according to the procedures,” he said.

“And we will still be open to hear from the CPP if they change their attitude over the next few weeks,” he added.

Related Stories

Latest News