PHNOM PENH —
Officials from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party say they will continue political talks, despite last week’s assault of two opposition lawmakers and the removal of Rescue Party Vice President Kem Sokha from his senior post at the National Assembly.
Rescue Party officials maintain that Kem Sokha’s ouster from his post as National Assembly vice president was unconstitutional, a claim the ruling party denies.
Rescue Party spokesman Yem Ponhearith told VOA Khmer on Monday that both sides will maintain a “culture of dialogue” and “strive to solve issues in a peaceful and non-violent manner.” The Rescue Party seeks progress through democratic means and will push for free and fair elections, he said.
Likewise, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said that the ruling party will uphold political dialogue, “even though there are tenses issues, such as the removal of Kem Sokha or the violence against the two lawmakers, or harsh words from the CNRP leader against [Prime Minister] Hun Sen.”
“I would like to request that all parties, which signed the agreement in May 2015, respect each other’s values and not attack each other,” he said. “This is a good way to maintain the culture of dialogue in the long run.”
The Rescue Party issued a letter Friday, noting “serious misconduct” that violates political agreements between the two sides.
Yem Ponhearith said the party will meet to discuss policies and strategies in the midst of the political tensions. The party has already sent a letter to National Assembly President Heng Samrin, saying they will not suggest another party member to replace Kem Sokha.
However, Sok Eysan said if the party does not suggest another candidate, the position will remain “vacant.”
Kem Sokha was voted out of his parliamentary role on Friday, despite a boycott by 55 members of his party, even while Rescue Party lawmakers Kong Saphea and Nhay Chamroeun were recovering in a Bangkok hospital, following attacks last Monday. No one has been arrested for the attacks, which came amid anti-opposition protests organized by the CPP.
Meanwhile, Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy, who is currently abroad, said he would return to Cambodia on Tuesday. He is expected to visit the two men in the hospital before he returns to Cambodia.