Senior members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party will meet this afternoon amid rising tensions over recent court actions against a number of CNRP members and supporters.
On July 21, 11 CNRP activists were convicted and sentenced between seven and 20 years' prison over a protest that turned violent last year at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park. Last Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for yet more arrests to be made, and the following day Yon Kimhour, 28, and Roeun Chetra, 33, were detained.
Yea Thong, 23, was arrested on Wednesday, bringing the total number of opposition supporters behind bars on “insurrection” charges to 14, while two other arrest warrants issued by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court are still outstanding.
Unconfirmed reports in local media suggested that two more warrants may have been issued at the weekend.
Both parties yesterday confirmed that Interior Minister Sar Kheng would meet with CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha at the National Assembly this afternoon to discuss the apparently fractured “culture of dialogue” initiated just days after the violent protest that has led to the arrests.
“We must keep the dialogue open between the minority and majority voice.
We asked for a meeting as there is a tense situation.
If there are any problems we have to talk,” CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrith said yesterday.
With CNRP president Sam Rainsy overseas and Hun Sen in Singapore, it would fall to Kheng and Sokha to attempt to iron out their differences.
However, Chanrith said that the issue of the jailed oppositionists may not, in fact, be directly raised at the meeting.
“But if there is an opportunity we will raise [the issue],” he said.
However, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said that discussing the court action against the CNRP supporters would be off the table at today’s meeting.
“Jurisdiction lies with the court and it is outside of the political framework.
What is outside of the political framework cannot be discussed by the two parties,” he said.