Cambodian opposition meets with PM


Wed, Sep 18, 2013 - Page 6

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen met leaders of the country’s main opposition party again yesterday in a four-hour meeting at the National Assembly, the second day of crucial talks aimed at finding a way out of the country’s post-election deadlock.

After demonstrations on Sunday triggered clashes with security forces that left one man dead and at least 10 people wounded, the political rivals met Monday and found rare common ground. However, the meeting failed to resolve the opposition’s key demand for an independent probe of election irregularities they say cost them the July vote.

The crisis is proving to be one of the biggest challenges yet to the rule of Hun Sen, who has been in power for nearly three decades.

The opposition has called for a boycott of parliament’s first session on Monday. Three days of protests in the capital were due to end yesterday evening, but the opposition has threatened to stage more.

The two sides issued a joint statement saying they agreed on three points — to meet again for more talks, to ensure future protests were peaceful and to set up a committee for reforming the election process in the future.

“We have different views and different perceptions, but we are Cambodians — we have the same blood, so we do not consider each other enemies,” opposition party spokesman Yim Sovann said.

However, the ruling party rejected the main demand for an investigation into polling fraud, saying the results of the election were ratified and the government has no legal means of carrying it out. The results gave Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party 68 assembly seats to the opposition’s 55.