The opposition and the ruling party sat down this morning for preliminary talks on how best to sort out the raft of alleged election irregularities, opening the door for a possible compromise on an independent investigative body, opposition lawmaker candidate Son Chhay said.
According to Chhay, who attended the two-hour meeting, the Cambodian People's Party seemingly agreed to the formation of an independent investigative committee that would comprise both parties, civil society and the UN as an observer – but not the National Election Committee.
“We do not believe the NEC should be in the committee, because the NEC is the body who was causing the problems in the first place,” Chhay said. “So we wanted more of a third-party investigation team to do the job and then bring the results back to us, the parties.”
The Cambodia National Rescue party since the election had been pushing for a joint investigation brokered by the UN, a move the NEC insisted it could not accede to because it would be "illegal" to have foreign involvement.
“The [Cambodian People’s Party] always wants to maintain the position that they cannot do anything outside the law. And we said ‘no, there is no law to stop us from creating an investigative committee,’” he added. “At the end, they seemed to agree to that.”
Chhay said that the two parties had not decided which local civil society organizations would take part in the investigation, and said that that would be the subject of future meetings.
“The discussion this morning came to two important conclusions. We all agreed that an investigative body should be created, and it should not come from the NEC…and that the UN can be an observer,” he said. “The third thing, which has not been decided, but will be discussed in the next meeting, is the obligation of the NEC to provide all the documents.”
On Tuesday, opposition leader Sam Rainsy vowed mass protests should final election results not reflect a CNRP win. Local observers, however, have urged the opposition to make further efforts at negotiation between the parties and NEC.