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Some turn down invitation to PM’s ‘Consultation Forum’

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The Grassroots Democratic Party rallies during the election period before the July 29 polls. Pha Lina

Some turn down invitation to PM’s ‘Consultation Forum’

Prime minister-designate Hun Sen is set to host the initial “Consultation Forum” on Tuesday.

It will be the first meeting between what is effectively the Kingdom’s new government and rival political parties to foster dialogue on national issues – a discussion the League for Democracy Party (LDP) and the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) on Sunday said they would not be attending.

Hun Sen last week spoke of the forum as opening a “culture of dialogue” to solve national issues by giving opportunities to other political parties that competed in the July 29 national elections but did not win any National Assembly seats to provide feedback and monitor the government’s performance.

He also said that members of other political parties might be brought in as advisers to various ministries.

Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin last week invited leaders of the 19 other parties that contested the July 29 national elections to the forum, which Hun Sen will preside over at the Council of Ministers on Tuesday.

While some political parties on Sunday expressed their support and agreed to attend the discussion with the leader of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), saying it would be an opportunity to raise specific issues with the prime minister-designate to help find solutions to national issues, others rejected the offer.

The LDP, which received the third most votes in the polls, declined to attend the forum, saying it would be unable to exert any influence on the decisions of the ruling party.

LDP deputy secretary-general and spokesman Kov Kea told The Post on Sunday of the reasons behind the party’s decision.

“We decided to decline to join the Consultation Forum for two reasons. First, the CPP winning all 125 seats in the National Assembly, if authentic, reflects the will of the Cambodian people. It shows they were happy with the CPP’s policies [and] so [the LDP] will follow the people’s decision willingly.

“Second, Samdech [Hun Sen] himself said that other parties’ opinions would not affect the policies of the CPP. So in following the will of the voters who voted for the CPP and the prime minister-designate’s stance, we have decided not to attend the forum. Our opinions will not have any influence,” he said.

The GDP had also rejected the government’s invitation, its leader Yang Saing Koma told The Post on Sunday.

A political party largely created by members of civil society, it declined to attend the first forum as it came before the new government was to be officially formed.

However, the GDP issued an announcement saying the party welcomed the government’s initiative in organising a consultative forum between the latter and other political parties “because this [is] consistent with [addressing] national reconciliation as stated in its [the GDP’s] election manifesto”.

In its statement, the GDP said it “would consider taking part in the forum after the creation of the 6th legislative National Assembly and government [because] this is an honest forum that [will] truly benefit society”.

Pich Sros, the president of the Cambodian Youth Party (CYP), said he had received a letter inviting him and his deputy, Houn Thearith, to take part.

“I have received an invitation already. After an internal CYP meeting, we decided to participate to help alter some inaction in Cambodian society,” Sros said.

“We have decided [to discuss] the issues of crop prices, new nationality laws and political discrimination at the local level. Whether [the meeting] will be effective or not, I cannot say just now,” Sros said.

CPP spokesperson Sok Eysan said it was the right of the parties to decide whether they wished to participate or not and that his party would not force them to attend.

“It is their right because the ruling party wants to provide opportunities for other political parties who have not been elected to give their opinions.

“We still want to gather [opinions] to amend and make the CPP’s policies better. It’s necessary ... the prime minister said that we have to gather input to ensure complete leadership effectiveness.

“The forum is an expression of our good intention. If they want to attend, we would welcome them. If they decline to attend, it is their right. It doesn’t matter,” Eysan said.

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