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Baby steps at palace meeting

King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath bid farewell to Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, Bun Rany, before boarding a flight to China last month.
King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath bid farewell to Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, Bun Rany, before boarding a flight to China last month. HENG CHIVOAN

Baby steps at palace meeting

A highly anticipated meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy this morning failed to reach an immediate solution to the political deadlock but opened the door to future discussions.

“There is nothing,” Rainsy told reporters as he stepped into his car. Hun Sen made no comments.

But the meeting, which lasted less than 30 minutes and at which King Norodom Sihamoni handed out official invitations for all 123 newly elected lawmakers to attend the planned opening session of parliament on September 23, paved the way to future discussion between the parties, with a meeting set for Monday.

“The suggestion from the royal palace was that the two parties meet to discuss how to share power in the National Assembly,” Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan told the Post.

“The King suggested [that there be] discussions between both parties to rearrange the power, sit down and discuss power sharing in the National Assembly – to comply with a two-party system in the National Assembly.”

At a press conference held at the Cambodia National Rescue Party headquarters after the meeting, party deputy president Kem Sokha said that both sides agreed to meet Monday. Rainsy referred to it as “the first step to open the stage [for negotiation].”

Spokesman Yim Sovann said the party would push ahead with planned demonstrations to take place Sunday through Tuesday.

“We thanked the King, but keep our political stance the same as before, because we want to find justice for voters,” Sovann said, adding that the party still intended to boycott the opening session of parliament. “We need to solve the problem first [before taking seats at the assembly].”

The meeting came just one day after two improvised explosive devices were found in the capital – one across from Freedom Park, where the opposition is set to hold its demonstrations, and one near the National Assembly.

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