PHNOM PENH & WASHINGTON DC - Cambodia’s ruling and opposition parties remain at odds over negotiations for a new government.
The opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party wants to negotiate for election reforms, following irregularities opposition leaders say cost them the election in July.
Kem Sokha, vice president of the Rescue Party, says his party will return to negotiations only to “find justice for voters,” whom he said were not fully represented at the polls.
But Chheang Vun, a ruling party lawmaker, told VOA Khmer that negotiations should now be centered around positions at the National Assembly, a legislative body the opposition says was illegally formed without their participation.
Ny Chakriya, lead investigator for the rights group Adhoc, told VOA Khmer the CPP’s tactic is likely seeking to bring the opposition into the National Assembly, thereby legitimizing the new government.
Meanwhile, however, Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy, who is visiting key donors in Western countries, says the current government is not legitimate and should not be recognized internationally.
He told a group of Cambodian-Americans outside Washington Tuesday night that the opposition was pushing for “change” that many Cambodians want, despite a high number unable to vote in July’s election.
“In this transition period, we are not allowing the CPP to do anything arbitrarily,” he told some 200 Cambodian-Americans at a talk in Virginia. “If they do that, our country will soon melt down. So if we share the roles equally, we can prevent that. If a party drags the country into serving an individual party and destroys the national interest, there is another party that can prevent that.”
Participants at the talk on Tuesday night said they want to know whether Cambodia is moving forward. Some said they supported Sam Rainsy’s calls for the international community to ignore the current government, formed by a CPP-only Assembly after the July elections.
“I want to see the international community, and especially the US, stand firm and help Cambodians,” said Bunrith Thong, who attended the meeting. “It’s the right time now, as many years ago, the US pushed Cambodia into a war with Vietnam.”
Responding to the criticisms, government spokesman Phay Siphan told VOA Khmer that the current government is legitimate and reflects the will of the people.
“This is not the fault of the CPP, which is already seated” in government, he said. “It’s not the fault of the king; it’s not the fault of the constitution. It’s the fault of the people who are not participating. With this issue, the CPP is ready to be highly patient.”
In Washington, Sam Rainsy’s delegation has been meeting with US officials and congressmen to push for more pressure on the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen. Sam Rainsy is set to meet with officials from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund before leaving on Thursday.