Cambodian PM's Party Asks Opposition to Scrap Protest Plans, Hold Talks

CNRP leader Sam Rainsy (C) speaks to supporters during a demonstration in Phnom Penh, Oct. 25, 2013.

Prime Minister Hun Sen's party has called on the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to cancel its planned mass demonstrations beginning next week aimed at highlighting election fraud, saying the two parties should resume negotiations to end a four-month political deadlock.

The ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) "is prepared to talk to seek a solution,"  the Ministry of the Interior’s Secretary of State and senior CPP official Prum Sokha told RFA's Khmer Service. "Only negotiations can result in solutions, not the demonstrations."

Prum Sokha made the appeal ahead of a series of CNRP protests beginning Dec. 10 on international human rights day intended to put pressure on the government to conduct a postmortem of the July 28 elections.

The CNRP has made repeated calls for an independent probe into claims of voter fraud and other irregularities in the elections which Hun Sen’s government has refused to heed following an official announcement declaring the CPP the victor.

The CNRP has since boycotted parliament over the disputed polls and said it would demand new elections during the upcoming mass protests.

Reacting to the CPP's offer to return to the negotiating table, CNRP spokesman Nhem Ponharith told RFA that while his party welcomes such talks, there must be a firm agenda for the discussions.

Three-point agenda

Following several rounds of failed talks, the CNRP recently proposed a three-point agenda for any new discussions — independent investigations into polls fraud, resignation of officials in the government-appointed National Election Committee which manages elections in the country, and implementation of recommendations from U.N. experts and NGOs on electoral and other reforms.

“We must have an agenda before any talks; we are opening the door to talks with the CPP about the agenda that we have submitted,” Nhem Ponharith said.

The National Election Committee awarded the CPP 68 parliamentary seats to the CNRP’s 55 in the elections, but the CNRP claims it won at least 63 seats and has called for a U.N.-backed investigation and led a series of mass demonstrations against the results.

Previous CNRP protests involved tens of thousands of supporters, with demonstrators delivering petitions to the missions of the U.N. and foreign embassies in Cambodia, demanding international intervention in the election crisis.

The Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC), which monitors the country's election process, has called on the CPP and CNRP to confront their differences through "honest" talks in the public interest.

“If the parties want to outdo each other, the people will suffer. So, the two parties must talk with honest hearts,” NICFEC Director Hang Puthea said.

Death threat

Meanwhile, the CNRP has written a letter to Interior Minister Sar Kheng to investigate an alleged death threat against CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha in the social media.

A few days ago, a Facebook account holder using the name of Pen Vannak said on his page that "he had reserved seven bullets for Kem Sokha ... one bullet for his head," CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said in the letter to Sar Kheng on Friday.

“The threat on Facebook is a death threat against Kem Sokha and other politicians. Therefore, your excellency must investigate the threat to bring the suspects to justice to provide security to Kem Sokha and other people,” the letter said.

A screenshot of the post, with Pen Vannak wearing police and CPP uniform, had gone viral but Pen Vannak denied making the post, saying someone had faked his identity to make the threat against Kem Sokha. The page has since been removed.

Reported by RFA's Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.


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