CNRP to walk away from talks
Negotiations between the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and ruling Cambodian People’s Party looked like they might screech to an abrupt halt yesterday, as opposition leaders visiting supporters in Tbong Khmum province said they will “cut off” talks.
Speaking to about 1,000 supporters in the province’s O’Raing Ov district yesterday, CNRP president Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha said the talks were a “useless” attempt to “dupe foreign countries” into continuing to provide aid and called for renewed demonstrations.
“First, we stop negotiations. The talks are useless, because this [CPP working] group just delays [proceedings] to dupe foreign countries,” Rainsy said. “They said that the [Cambodia] National Rescue Party and [Cambodian] People’s Party have already agreed to negotiate, so give us money.
“So we will cut off negotiations and tell foreign countries not to give the money to [Prime Minister Hun Sen] the thief,” Rainsy said.
He added that dialogue would not restart until the CPP proved itself serious about National Election Committee reform – namely, by agreeing to key CNRP demands that NEC members should require approval by two-thirds of parliament and that it should be a constitutionally mandated body.
“When the NEC [will be] changed, we will talk more,” he said. “This time, there is not any choice besides [holding another] demonstration. So please all [citizens] prepare yourselves to hold a mass demonstration . . . to have 2 million people.”
Cheam Yeap, a senior CPP lawmaker, yesterday called on the CNRP to continue the talks, adding that the CNRP “cannot use demonstrations as a basis to resolve the problem”.
He said the government had no plans to reform the NEC until the next mandate.
“The NEC could change in the next mandate. We will not change it now,” he said.
Despite the public announcement of an end to talks by the CNRP leadership, senior party officials in Phnom Penh yesterday could not confirm whether negotiations – which include a planned Monday meeting of a joint election reform committee – were actually being called off.