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‘Top-level’ talks on the way

Prime Minister Hun Sen fields questions from the media about rumoured high-level meetings after leaving the National Assembly yesterday in Phnom Penh
Prime Minister Hun Sen fields questions from the media about rumoured high-level meetings after leaving the National Assembly yesterday in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

‘Top-level’ talks on the way

A top-level meeting between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party could occur soon, senior officials from both parties hinted yesterday, as the National Assembly opened its second session of the fifth mandate with only the CPP represented.

Fronting the press at the parliament, Interior Minister Sar Kheng confirmed that the CPP is “arranging” a top-level meet, but did not give a specific date as to when this would occur.

Prime Minister Hun Sen referred questions about the meeting to the CNRP.

“We have [vowed] that we must go ahead [with negotiations]. The others [CNRP] sometimes they go back and forth, so you must ask the others [about this], don’t ask me,” he said.

Son Chhay, CNRP whip, said the top-level meeting would take place soon, though he could not provide a date.

“The parties have been contacting each other. We are making progress. [We] have much understanding [but] we will continue to debate further details,” he said.

Separately, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights has called on the lawmakers not to pass any new legislation until the CNRP takes its seats and ends its National Assembly boycott, which began in September following the disputed July election.

The government aims to pass the three “fundamental laws” on the judiciary, along with an NGO law, a trade union law and a cyber law this year, or later this mandate.

With only one party sitting in the National Assembly, the CCHR says it is concerned that these draft laws, which could have a serious impact on the human rights situation, “will not be sufficiently scrutinised and will not represent the will of the people”.

It appears, however, that sitting lawmakers from the CPP are starting the second session by passing legislation likely to prove less controversial.

Yesterday, with 66 of 68 CPP lawmakers present, it passed a draft law approving how the 2012 budget was spent.

Today, a draft law on roads and a draft law related to the protection of investors as part of an agreement between Cambodia and Vietnam are expected to be passed.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KEVIN PONNIAH

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