The opposition may be readying a formal request that the United Nations and King Norodom Sihamoni play a role in future negotiations between the Cambodia National Rescue Party and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
On a trip to Takeo province on Saturday, CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha told more than 1,000 gathered supporters that he had asked CNRP president Sam Rainsy to write to King Sihamoni and the UN requesting their involvement in formal negotiations.
Prime Minister Hun Sen dismissed the possibility of the UN playing a role in the early stages of bargaining in a televised speech on Saturday, adding that if there was to be a referendum on calling an early election, elected CNRP lawmakers would first have to take their seats in parliament.
Sokha responded to Hun Sen’s remarks about a possible referendum by calling for the involvement of the King and the UN in talks with the ruling party.
“We are going to join [parliament] because citizens voted for us. We will join, but we will only join so long as we have an agreement together [with the CPP],” Sokha said.
“As a principle, we would have international witnesses there and the King presiding. In that scenario, we could agree together and join [the National Assembly] to change the constitution without any problem,” he added.
The comments came after it was revealed that the CNRP and CPP have exchanged proposals through a senior government official acting as a mediator since January 5, a day after a three-day crackdown on garment workers and opposition supporters in the capital ended.
Political analyst Kem Ley, who was one of two analysts to be apprised of the backroom negotiations, said it was too early to involve the UN, adding that the King would play a vital role in the talks.
“The United Nations can give recommendations; it can raise concerns and give funding and human resources,” he said. “But the political compromise mechanism, I think that both parties will choose the King to be the referee when both parties come to agree on important points.”
Sokha, meanwhile, appealed to CNRP supporters on a visit to Preah Sihanouk province yesterday to protest across the country.
“I would like to appeal to all citizens to stand up and hold demonstrations throughout the country and the world to demand justice for Khmer citizens … to have the whole world pressure the government,” he said.