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.”
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.