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Talks could restart after Rainsy return

Talks could restart after Rainsy return

Talks between the opposition and ruling parties to break the political deadlock that has now dragged on for more than six months could soon occur, Cambodia National Rescue Party officials said yesterday, ahead of party leader Sam Rainsy’s return from abroad.

Kuoy Bunroeun, head of the CNRP’s working group for negotiations, told the Post yesterday that Rainsy’s return this evening could see a resumption of direct party talks, but only if the Cambodian People’s Party does not try to intimidate the opposition.

“So long as the negotiation is in equal spirit, we will negotiate, because there is no better way other than talking,” he said, adding that the CNRP would also like to see all those detained during worker protests last month released.

“Let me meet with the [CNRP] leaders first. The day after tomorrow [Tuesday] [we] will know.… We have not contacted the [CPP] yet. [We] are waiting for Mr President [Sam Rainsy] to come first.”

Sak Sitha, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior and a member of the CPP’s working group for negotiations, said the ruling party was waiting for the CNRP to make official contact to kick-start fresh talks.

“As a principle, the [CPP] has always been willing to negotiate,” he said.

Party leaders have not met directly since September, and talks scheduled for early January were called off by the CNRP following the outbreak of violence.

According to CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann, all demands made by the opposition – including deep election reform – have been agreed to by the CPP, apart from a new election, which he said could be debated during negotiations.

But senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap reiterated yesterday that a new election or re-election would require a constitutional amendment in the National Assembly, a move two-thirds of lawmakers would have to support.

Rainsy will return to Cambodia this evening after a two-week long trip to Europe, where he lobbied the EU and UN, and to South Korea.

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