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Opposition Retains Demands as Vice President Returns From Abroad

Cambodia National Rescue Party Deputy President Kem Sokha greets supporters during a rally in Phnom Penh, file photo.
Kem Sokha, vice president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, returned to Cambodia from a tour abroad late Monday, claiming the opposition has not changed its position in political negotiations with the ruling party.

The opposition has boycotted the new government since July 2013 elections it says were marred by fraud. It had been holding negotiations with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party to resolve the political deadlock prior to the Khmer New Year holiday earlier this month.

Kem Sokha said the party still wants meaningful election reforms, including within the National Election Committee, as well as a new election by 2016.

“Our goal is the same,” he told reporters on his arrival to Phnom Penh.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said earlier this month the opposition had agreed to a 2018 election date. But Kem Sokha, who leads the opposition alongside Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy, said he had not agreed to that.

Sam Rainsy is expected to return from a separate trip abroad on Wednesday.

Both men have been traveling to bolster support for the opposition and to continue their push for reforms.

The Rescue Party retains an “open door” for talks with the CPP, Kem Sokha said.