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Talks ongoing, still no accord

Son Chhay, head of the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s negotiation commission
Son Chhay, head of the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s negotiation commission, talks to the media after a joint election reform committee meeting yesterday at the Senate. Heng Chivoan

Talks ongoing, still no accord

A three-hour meeting yesterday of a joint election reform committee made up of representatives from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party discussed the reform of electoral institutions but failed to reach any accord, officials said.

The first meeting of the committee, part of efforts to bring an end to the CNRP’s boycott of parliament, last Monday resulted in a joint statement pledging unspecified voter-list reform and that a law on political party financing would be created.

“The joint commission has decided that we will continue the talks [next Monday]. This morning it is impossible to announce any result. There are still other points which we want to [discuss], what points we will [use] for reforms. So we have decided not to issue any joint document,” opposition whip Son Chhay, head of his party’s delegation, said.

Any issues left outstanding by the committee would be addressed during future talks between the parties, he added.

“We want an electoral institution that has the confidence of all parties contesting the election and has the confidence from people. The fulfillment of work [by the National Election Committee] should be independent, unbiased and not beholden to political parties.”

The CNRP said in a statement yesterday that it wanted NEC members to require approval by a two-thirds majority in parliament, rather than the absolute majority currently required.

Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin, head of the CPP delegation, said his party had raised issues relating to the neutrality of civil society groups involved in election monitoring.

The government has dismissed a lengthy post-election report prepared by a number of prominent election watchdogs as being “manipulated”.

Chhin added that the talks were slow going, but necessary.

“We must do the work clearly. It takes a long time, but we are able to talk clearly. We will not take risks,” he said, adding that while the parties had disagreed on points, their “vision” for reform was not so different.

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