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International parliamentarians gather to discuss peace-building

International parliamentarians gather to discuss peace-building


Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua excluded from Monday's conference on the role of parliaments in building peaceful, stable societies.

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Senate and CPP President Chea Sim at a conference on Monday.  

A REGIONAL seminar to boost the role of parliaments in building peaceful and sustainable societies began Monday in Phnom Penh. The three-day seminar aims at strengthening the abilities of parliaments to resolve disputes and to promote peace and national reconciliation.

In his opening address, Chea Sim, president of the Cambodian Senate, said Cambodia's legislative bodies had actively contributed to the government's efforts to integrate into regional and international frameworks by ratifying treaties - particularly as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the World Trade Organization and the UN.

"We cooperate ... to fulfil the obligations of our state in extensive regional and international cooperation in the age of globalisation, especially in the battles against drugs, cross-border crimes and terrorism," Chea Sim said.

The seminar includes members of parliaments from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Other participants include members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union [IPU] and representatives of the Cambodian government.

Ngo Anh Dzung, a member of the IPU and of Vietnam's National Assembly, said he was pleased the seminar offered a further opportunity to improve the IPU's cooperation with Cambodia's parliament.

Ngo told delegates that every post-conflict situation was different, but said: "In many instances, authorities came up against the same moral, social, economic and political problems once the weapons had been laid down".

"Peace negotiations and agreements are only the starting point for a long-term process to rebuild society," he said, adding that parliaments had great potential to bring people closer and could prove important as mediating bodies.

Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, who was prevented from entering the seminar by the head of security after organisers failed to provide a badge for her, said it was highly ironic that she had been shut out of a meeting that was billed as promoting dialogue and dispute resolution.

"I am disgusted by this. If I were from the Cambodian People's Party, I would have been allowed in," she said. "Do you think [ruling party MP] Cheam Yeap would have been barred for that? Of course not.  They would have rolled out a red carpet for him. It is not equality before the law."

Chheang Vun, a member of the National Assembly, said no country or region would be happy living in a world where just a few nations lived in peace and prosperity while the majority remained victims of domestic strife or war.

"On behalf of the delegates of the National Assembly of Cambodia ... I am glad to be ... discussing and sharing experiences related to the issues we have faced, especially in relation to the issues of reconciliation and peace-building," he said.


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