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Cambodian Politics at a ‘Turning Point,’ Opposition Leader Says

Cambodia Opposition Leader Optimistic With Culture of Dialogue And New NEC
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Watch Interview with Sam Rainsy: Cambodia Opposition Leader Optimistic With Culture of Dialogue And New NEC

Cambodia’s opposition leader says the country is at a “turning point” in its politics, which requires dialogue between his party and the ruling party.

In an interview with VOA Khmer in Washington, Sam Rainsy, head of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, said dialogue with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party will ensure safety, dignity and freedom of expression for politicians.

“There should not be harassment just because of differing opinions,” he said. “There should not be an intimidation and threats of imprisonment, and, as in the past, even assassinations. This culture of killing each other must be stopped, and we have to adopt a new culture, which is the culture of dialogue, because it’s peaceful and truly democratic.”

Sam Rainsy is in the US to build support for his party. Some supporters in the US have been critical of his political deal-making with the CPP. Other critics say the deals could be damaging Cambodia’s democratic process.

But Sam Rainsy said the process needs more time, and that the “culture of dialogue” needs to be spread to local leaders, as well as national.

“We will try our best to promote it down to the local level, so that it can be a new practice and mindset to replace the old ones, which were wars, fighting, conflicts, and killings, which have destroyed our country. Therefore, all Khmer should understand this.”

Sam Rainsy said he is optimistic the new National Election Committee, which has four of nine members selected by his party, will do a better job than the former NEC.

“We don’t need the NEC or any member of the NEC to support us,” he said. “The only things we ask for are fairness, perfection and full integrity.”