Cambodian Opposition threatens talks walkout | Asia Pacific

Cambodian Opposition threatens talks walkout

Cambodian Opposition threatens talks walkout

Updated 18 March 2014, 13:47 AEDT

Cambodia's Opposition has threatened to abandon talks on breaking a seven-month political deadlock, unless Prime Minister Hun Sen showed some 'goodwill'.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy told 'Asia Pacific' that the government has until next Monday, to show it's serious in negotiating an end to the stalemate.

The national election commission declared the ruling CPP winners of last July's polls, but the Opposition is calling for fresh elections, citing fraud and irregularities.

Presenter: Sen Lam

Speaker: Sam Rainsy, Cambodian Opposition leader


RAINSY: They are just trying to buy time, negotiations are going nowhere. That is why we will have to draw the conclusion to stop negotiating in that manner. And we will have to think of other alternatives to break the deadlock.
LAM: So is the CNRP planning to abandon this joint committee for electoral reform?
RAINSY: We have to send a clear message to the former communist ruling party. We have to tell them that by next week, if there is no breakthrough, then we will have to start protests to denounce the lack of goodwill on the part of the ruling party. 
And we would ask all friends of Cambodia, including Australia, to put pressure on the Cambodian government and the ruling party to accept a reform of the electoral commission.
LAM: So do you have a day in mind for your deadline next week?
RAINSY: It would be early next week, because the next round of talks is supposed to start next Monday. 
The ruling party only wants to buy time and to cling on to power by any means and at any cost. They claim to have won the last election last July, but that election remains in dispute because serious irregularities have possibly overturned the will of the Cambodian people.
LAM: I understand one of the sticking points for this stalemate is the reform of the National Election Commission?
RAINSY: Yes. The Electoral Commission is under the control of the ruling party. Therefore, understandably they don't want to change anything with regard to the composition of that Electoral Commission. It is made up of members or supporters of the ruling party, and this has been denounced by many independent observers. 
And the United Nations, the European Parliament and also the Australian Senate have called for investigation of past irregularities and a reform of that Electoral Commission in Cambodia.
LAM: Tell us about your proposal for a new National Election Commission, how would you like its members to be chosen?
RAINSY: We want to inspire, to get example from other countries where the Electoral Commission is independent, look at how things are organised in neighbouring countries, such as Thailand, the Philippines, Bangladesh and even Australia. 
So commonsense would push all Cambodian parties to agree on the formation of an independent Electoral Commission.
LAM: The opposition has launched protests in Phnom Penh in recent months, and that's come to nothing. What other options are open to you do you think?
RAINSY: I think our protest in the last few months show the popular support for the opposition. There were unprecedented protests in terms of size, hundreds of thousands of people have expressed their support for the opposition and called for a democratic change in this country. So the people are prepared to join any new protest and if they will get bigger and bigger and would lead to  'People Power', as we have seen in neighbouring countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia.
LAM: And Prince Norodom Ranariddh this week announced his return to Cambodian politics through his new Community of the Royalist People Party. Does the CNRP plan to engage this new party of Prince Norodom Ranariddh? 
RAINSY: The CNRP represent nearly according to official results, but actually, the CNRP represent more than half of the nation. 
And there are only two forces on Cambodia's political scene; on the one hand the ruling party, which is the former communist party, and on the other hand, the CNRP. 
There are much smaller parties, which actually play in the hand of the ruling party. 
LAM: So you're saying that Prince Ranariddh's CRPP is brought back by Prime Minister Hun Sen to bolster support for the government?
RAINSY: They try, the ruling party, tries to split any non-CPP force. But the so-called Royalist Force of Prince Norodom Ranariddh does not represent anything at the last election. They collected no seats whatsoever, and there are only two parties that occupy or potentially occupy the seat at the National Assembly.

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