Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Few disagreements’ emerge at Rainsy, Sar Kheng meeting

‘Few disagreements’ emerge at Rainsy, Sar Kheng meeting

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy shakes hand with Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng yesterday evening before a meeting at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

‘Few disagreements’ emerge at Rainsy, Sar Kheng meeting

Leaders of the ruling and opposition parties yesterday met to hash out disagreements over commune election laws, but seemingly steered clear of sensitive matters such as the imprisonment of an opposition party senator and 14 political activists.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng and Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy met for two hours at the National Assembly, declining to speak with reporters afterwards.

Spokesmen for the pair said only a few disagreements remained concerning local election reform, which the parties have been working to amend in recent months.

The apparent cordial atmosphere came only one day after Prime Minister Hun Sen lambasted the opposition as “traitorous” in a scathing speech at Phnom Penh’s Sokha Hotel.

Among disputed points is the Cambodian People’s Party’s proposal to shorten the commune election campaigning period, restrict the movement of campaign marches between communes and limit where political posters can be displayed.

Sak Setha, Interior Ministry secretary of state, said that of 196 articles of the law, only 3 or 4 were contested.

“Only about 2 per cent [of the law] is a problem, and it’s not really a problem,” Setha said.

”Normally, in the democratic process, parties have different concepts. That is a normal process and we must be aware of each other’s ideas.”

He continued: “We do not use the word ‘disagreement’; it is a problem of not understanding together. One side understands like this, another understands like that. So we will continue to be more aware of this.”

Eng Chhay Eang said the CNRP would continue to press for allowing rallies to move between communes, currently permitted, and maintaining the 15-day campaigning period.

“Both leaders will study the issues and find a joint resolution next time,” Chhay Eang said.

“The working groups have debated many times and we have agreed almost completely,” he continued.

Since the arrest of Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour over a border-related Facebook post in August, as well as the jailing of 14 CNRP activists over anti-government protests last year, attention has turned to Rainsy to see whether he will attempt to negotiate their freedom with the ruling party.

However, no details have emerged about any potential talks on the issue, with the CPP regularly saying the judiciary’s independence precludes such discussions, despite several instances of compromises in the past to free jailed opposition members.

MOST VIEWED

  • Reuters: US Embassy fired 32 staff members for sharing pornography

    The United States Embassy in Phnom Penh has fired 32 non-diplomatic staff members who were allegedly caught exchanging pornographic images and video, including of minors, according to the news agency Reuters. Four sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the content was shared in

  • Our 2018 guide to spending Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh

    Khmer New Year festivities are upon us. For the next few days, travellers will be making their way to their home provinces to eat, celebrate, play traditional games and visit a pagoda with offerings. If you will be staying put in Phnom Penh for the

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the