Fifty days after the ruling party and opposition last met to negotiate a solution to the ongoing political deadlock, officials from both major parties met yesterday morning at the National Assembly.
But those who were hoping for any kind of expedient resolution or at least a template for specific reforms will be sorely disappointed.
It appears a three-hour discussion was not enough, with the parties’ working groups – consisting of five officials from each party – not reporting any major breakthroughs and instead pledging to report back to their party leaders before further negotiations take place.
Speaking after the meeting, Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yim Sovann and Cambodian People’s Party lead representative Prum Sokha said they had agreed to further debate on election reform.
Such a commitment is not new.
Following a meeting between top leaders on September 16, a joint statement was released pledging bipartisan commitment to unspecified election reform and further negotiation.
Both parties yesterday still appeared reluctant to discuss specific details of any reforms.
“We have exchanged our views with each other and we have promised that we must continue to meet again to resolve problems, which we have not completely agreed on before the end of this week,” Sokha said.
Although parties raised their individual agendas in the meeting, he added, the working groups have no power to make any decisions.
The CNRP’s requests, as outlined by the party last week, ask for an investigation into election irregularities, electoral reforms based on UN and NGO recommendations and the symbolic dismissal of the National Election Committee leadership.
The CPP’s Sokha yesterday emphasised that the opposition’s demand for an investigation, although presented, was not discussed.
He said that only electoral reform was discussed, based on the September 16 agreement.
The CNRP’s Sovann said the working groups would continue to debate technical aspects of reform, while a future meeting between the leaders – as yet unscheduled – would deal with outstanding, and more sensitive, political issues.
He also reassured supporters his party was not planning to end its boycott of the assembly.
“As long as there is no real resolution, the [CNRP] would like to declare to the public that [it] will not join the parliament.”