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Political Sides Fail To Reach Agreement Before New Year

Mr. Kem Sokha, vice president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party and Yim Sovann, spokesperson of CNRP in Washington state, on their way to San Francisco, California, Thursday, April 10, 2014. (Courtesy of Kem Sokha)

Cambodia’s rival political sides failed to sign an agreement that would have ended the ongoing political crisis on Friday.

Kem Sokha, vice president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, told VOA Khmer that the gulf between the two sides in negotiations remains too wide to form an agreement.

Both sides had hoped to sign an agreement in front of the king on Friday, prior to the kick off of annual New Year’s celebrations. The opposition has boycotted the government since the July 2013 elections, which is said were marred by fraud.

“There are many points that have not been agreed upon,” he told VOA Khmer by phone from California, where he is traveling to find more support for the opposition. “It’s not few.”

The Rescue Party wants a National Election Committee that is constitutionally and legislatively chosen, a sticking point for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. The opposition also wants a new election held in 2016; the CPP says it will consider one in 2018. And there are questions over TV and radio licenses for the Rescue Party, Kem Sokha said.

Conceding to the demands of the CPP, when all points are not clear, is not an option, he said. “It would be meaningless to the people who tried their best, conducting mass protests, and it would be meaningless to those abroad who financially helped support the protests.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen and Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy spoke on the phone for about 45 minutes last week, seeking a solution to the political deadlock ahead of Khmer New Year. Hun Sen has said a failed deal is on the shoulders of the opposition.

But Kem Sokha, who met with US Senator Diane Feinstein last week, told VOA Khmer the opposition would not simply concede.

“I want to solve the problems,” he said. “But a solution that violates the will of the people and betrays the will of the people, I can’t do that.”