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Political Parties to Hold Meeting to End Long-Standing Political Tensions

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.

The meeting was agreed to by Interior Minister Sar Kheng after a request was submitted to the CPP by CNRP deputy leader Kem Sokha.

The leaders of Cambodia’s top political parties are set to meet for the first time in more than a year in an attempt to end a prolonged period of tension.

The meeting was agreed to by Interior Minister Sar Kheng after a request was submitted to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party by Cambodia National Rescue Party deputy leader Kem Sokha.

Kheng responded by promising a meeting after January 11.

Sok Eysan, a CPP spokesman, said the topics under discussion at the meeting would depend on the opposition.

However, he added that discussion of ongoing court cases against rights workers and opposition members would be off the table.

“Some cases are still at the appeal court, some are at the Supreme Court. So I think the meeting between the majority and minority leaders cannot [solve the problem] ... because it’s an interference in judicial work,” he said.

Four local rights workers and an election official were detained on corruption charges last April.

They have been held in pre-trial detention since then, which is widely believed to be politically motivated.

Sam Rainsy, CNRP president, along with more than 10 party officials and activists have also been jailed in separate cases.

Yim Sovann, CNRP spokesman, declined to give specifics about the meeting.

“I cannot go into much detail, but whatever we will try to find solutions to the political problems that we see,” he said.

Meetings between the two parties were suspended in October 2015 after two CNRP lawmakers were beaten outside parliament by attackers linked to the ruling party.

Ou Virak, founding president of the Future Forum, a think tank, said it was unlikely the court cases would be discussed.

“Their release is a separate story and from what I can see, they will be released, because the political situation is relaxing. But [the releases] would not relate to the meeting,” he said.