Cambodia's Hun Sen, Sam Rainsy 'Narrow Differences' in Election Stalemate

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Prime Minister Hun Sen (r) and opposition leader Sam Rainsy (l) shake hands after talks at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Sept. 17, 2013.
Prime Minister Hun Sen (r) and opposition leader Sam Rainsy (l) shake hands after talks at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Sept. 17, 2013.

Cambodia’s ruling and opposition parties are “narrowing their differences” in talks aimed at ending a standoff over recent elections, officials said Tuesday, as protesters ended three straight days of mass demonstrations against poll results.

Officials gave few details about the three-hour closed-door meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), saying the talks would resume after each party had more time to discuss issues internally.

Both the leaders led their parties in the discussions, which were the third in four days and were initiated by King Norodom Sihamoni after the CNRP refused to accept official results declaring the CPP victor in the hotly-contested July 28 polls and threatened to boycott parliament.

Sam Rainsy told RFA’s Khmer Service after the talks that his CNRP was seeking a “balance of power” to check any abuses by the CPP and initiate institutional and other reforms in the administration.

He maintained that CNRP has been robbed of victory in the elections, citing fraud and other malpractices which he said should be investigated by an independent investigation committee.

Stances 'getting closer'

CPP spokesman Prak Sakhon told reporters that Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy “have a mutual understanding of each other” although their parties have not yet reached “100 percent agreement” on a deal that would end the stalemate.

“But the parties’ stances are getting closer and we hope to have a solution soon,” he said after the meeting in the National Assembly building in Phnom Penh.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the meeting had ended after the CPP team balked at CNRP demands, but did not give details of the requests.

“We are working to resolve our differences and the gap is narrowing,” he said. 

'Balance of power'

CNRP party leaders said they were seeking ways to share power with the CPP but were not considering forming a coalition government with them. 

“We must demand a balance of power,” Sam Rainsy told RFA in an interview Tuesday.

“The CNRP must have a role and the ability to prevent any abuses against the people. We won’t allow the CPP to do anything arbitrarily,” he said.

The two parties reached an agreement on Monday to pursue reforms—including of the National Election Committee (NEC), which manages the country’s polls—and avoid violence.

But they hit a stumbling block on Tuesday in deciding the specific areas where reform should be carried out, Sam Rainsy said.

“We have discussed reforms, but we want to know where we should reform…. This is what we can’t agree upon.”

“The CPP and CNRP have agreed that we must reform to improve our country, and we must reform national institutions and development strategies.” 

Voters' will

He said the CNRP, which according to official results garnered 55 seats in parliament compared to the CPP’s 68, should play an important role in charting the country’s course in accordance with voters’ wishes.

Opposition demonstrators rally in Phnom Penh, Sept. 17, 2013. Photo credit: RFA.
Opposition demonstrators rally in Phnom Penh, Sept. 17, 2013. Photo credit: RFA. RFA
“We must respect the voters’ will,” Sam Rainsy said. The CNRP’s performance was the best by the opposition in nearly two decades, denying Hun Sen’s party a two-thirds majority.

“The most important thing is that we are working for our country to have peace, but peace must come with justice,” Sam Rainsy said.

The CNRP, which says it should have won 63 of the country’s 123 parliamentary seats, has led weeks of mass demonstrations to back its calls for an independent probe on “widespread” election irregularities.

No coalition government

CNRP deputy chief Kem Sokha said the time had come for action to check the powers of the CPP, which has led the country for nearly three decades.

“When we have a balance of power, the process will be smooth,” he told RFA.

The CNRP was not considering forming a coalition government with the CPP, as the now-defunct Funcinpec royalist party had following a close election in 1993, he said.

“The CPP has never discussed forming a coalition government with us,” Kem Sokha said. “We have talked only about reform.”


The talks between the two parties came as some 10,000 protesters turned out for a rally in Phnom Penh in the wake of violence that had marred a demonstration over the weekend.

During Tuesday’s protest, a Buddhist monk tried to set himself on fire to protest injustices in the election.

The monk, who said he wanted to die to remind the government of social injustices, was stopped by the surrounding crowd after he had doused himself with gasoline.

Tuesday was the last of three tense days of CNRP-led rallies including one on Sunday that saw one protester shot dead and several wounded in a clash with police near the Kbal Thanal bridge.

In another incident near the Royal Palace on Sunday, police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters who had removed barbed wire barricades.

New York-based Human Rights Watch urged the Cambodian government to promptly launch an “independent and impartial” investigation into the “apparent excessive use of force” by security forces in the violence.

“The Cambodian government sought to limit the opposition demonstration with barricades controlling movement into and out of Phnom Penh,” the group’s Asia director Brad Adams said.

“A peaceful day of protest turned ugly when the Cambodian security forces used excessive force against protesters,” he said.

Reported by Huot Vuthy for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.

Comments (5)


from Phnom Penh

Rainsy is a racist.

Oct 08, 2013 12:24 PM


First of all I would like to admire all Cambodian who actively involved in a making change for our country our nation and for our younger generations future.
Mr.Hun sen and some cpp's top officials which are serving their Vietnam master has been destroying Khmer nation shamelessly for over thirty years now it's time to stop play politically tricks to hang on the power to control Cambodia as hochiminh's plan.
Mr. Pol Pot was bad because he lacked of ability controlling who committed genocide to Cambodian nation but Mr.hun sen is worst because he has been joining hands with Vietcong to destroy His own nation his own country.Mr. Hun sen should stop listening to Hanoi's top secret agents ,step down and let Cambodians build their own country.
Thank you Mr.Sam Ransy,Mr. Kem Sokha and to all CNRP supporters that constantly demonstrate for their justice after the 5s election.God bless you all.

Sep 22, 2013 11:17 PM


It is unlikely that there will have an independent committee reviewing the election result this late into the game. But the CPP has have their power siphon off quite a bit and hopefully these ordeals of the past two months will lead to change in the future. The CPP losing parliamentary seats and the growing support and protest for the CNRP must have Hun Sen sweating. I'm hoping these events will make him reevaluate himself and lead to some changes in policy. Regardless of all the ills that Hun Sen have done such as land grabbing, Cambodia is in a state of peace and economic growth. It's best that it remains that way.

It's great to see the youth of Cambodia be so politically involve. Facebook and social media have pierce the wall of censorship and media stranglehold of Hun Sen. Cambodia will experience change, positive change, lets give it time.

Sep 22, 2013 04:30 AM


from Ratanakiri

At least Cambodia have more Democracy than your! Shame on you Vietnam.
Your puppet can not do as you want on Cambodia nowadays!
Keep your evil will on your people! Don't plague Cambodian.
Wake up Cambodia people! Be aware from Vietnam evil's temptation!

Sep 17, 2013 09:44 PM

Anonymous Reader

If CNRP boycotts the National Assembly then the government can't be formed. If CPP insists on convening with 68 members, then it will be called Hun Sen Assembly. If voting required Absolute Majority, it would need the other 55 members to make it valid.

Sep 17, 2013 08:48 PM

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