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Hun Sen Firm on Election Reform Negotiations

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, left, shakes hands with opposition party leader Sam Rainsy, right, after a meeting, as Sar Kheng, center, deputy prime minister, looks on at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy met for the second time on Monday in a bid to resolve a political stalemate, a day after violent clashes on the streets of Phnom Penh. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday said his party will stand firm on its position that a simple majority vote in parliament be used to select members of the National Election Committee.

His Cambodian People’s Party is in negotiations for electoral reform with the opposition, which wants a two-thirds majority vote on the nation’s election body. The opposition has boycotted the government for more than 11 months, since 2013 elections it says were marred by fraud.

Speaking on the occasion of National Fish Day, in Kampong Chhnang province, Hun Sen said there would be “absolutely no two-thirds” vote.

“You said if there is no agreement on this point, you will not join the National Assembly,” he said, apparently addressing the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party. “So be it.”

But opposition figures say they insist on the majority vote for selection of the NEC, which oversees elections, manages voter registration and arbitrates disputes. Opposition officials say it is currently stacked with ruling party supporters.

“The NEC is the central problem,” said Yem Ponhearith, a spokesman for the Rescue Party. “It was set up by the ruling party. We are clear, in that we maintain our claim for a vote of two-thirds among members of parliament.”

Lao Mong Hay, a political analyst, told VOA Khmer Tuesday that if neither side budges on the issue, the ongoing political deadlock cannot be addressed.