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Opposition Meets With UN’s Human Rights Envoy

Cambodia National Rescue Party Deputy President Kem Sokha greets supporters during a rally in Phnom Penh, file photo.
Kem Sokha, a leading opposition figure in Cambodia, met with the UN’s special human rights envoy on Friday, telling him that the opposition will not join the National Assembly until the country’s electoral system is reformed.

The envoy, Surya Subedi, is on a fact-finding mission to Cambodia, following up on visits in the wake of January’s violent crackdown on demonstrators.

His visit also comes amid a protracted political stalemate between the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party over elections in July 2013.

Kem Sokha, who is vice president of the Rescue Party, and other party members met with Subedi for about two hours on Friday, after which Kem Sokha briefed reporters.

The Rescue Party will not join the Assembly until the National Election Committee is reformed, he said. The party is concerned that if it joins the Assembly, it will be “ignored” by the ruling party majority, he said.

The international community, including the UN and the US, have called on the two sides to make meaningful reforms. US Embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh said Friday the US position has not changed; it wants the parties to promote true democratic reform.