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CNRP softens talk conditions

CNRP president Sam Rainsy (right) and deputy president Kem Sokha
CNRP president Sam Rainsy (right) and deputy president Kem Sokha requested third-party mediation for bilateral negotiations with the CPP during a press conference in Phnom Penh. VIREAK MAI

CNRP softens talk conditions

The opposition has said it has not set any preconditions on the content of cross-party talks expected to be held next week with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in an agenda submitted yesterday.

But opening the talks to the media and international arbitration was important to build trust between the two parties and the public, Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders stressed.

CNRP president Sam Rainsy said yesterday that while international arbitrators should be present at the meet, what had earlier been cast as firm preconditions for dialogue could now be part of the debate.

“We don’t have any preconditions, just proposals, then we will see how [the CPP] reacts,” Rainsy said.

The CNRP had previously said a commitment to an independent investigation of the July 28 election, the resignation of the nine National Election Committee leaders and election reform in line with the recommendations of the United Nations and other international groups, were preconditions for holding dialogue.

Rainsy said he was due to call Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday to plan the talks, but the call was postponed until today due to the minister’s schedule.

Kheng denied receiving the CNRP agenda yesterday afternoon, which CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said had been submitted yesterday morning.

When asked if the new stance suggested the opposition is prepared to offer some concessions to the ruling party, Rainsy said “the most important thing now is to be able to hold free-flowing discussions and engage”.

Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said the opposition had already shown it was willing to compromise by cooling its rhetoric ahead of the talks.

“They have already compromised on the preconditions … so I think that is a positive sign that the next round [of talks] might take place soon. I expect it will take place early next week,” he said.

“They will need some significant reform to show constituents, probably the resignation of NEC [officials] can easily translate to a victory for the CNRP,” he added. “If they can agree to something like that then any significant agreement would be much more likely, setting the stage for more concessions.”

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