PHNOM PENH —
The UN’s special envoy for human rights met with officials from the ruling and opposition parties on Tuesday to address ongoing concerns over the legitimacy of July’s national elections.
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party held a demonstration with some 2,000 supporters in Phnom Penh Monday and has threatened to boycott the results of an election it deems unfair.
Opposition leaders say the National Election Committee continues to allow regulations and practices that favor the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, a claim the election body denies.
The opposition also wants to see the return of its leader, Sam Rainsy, who remains in exile to avoid criminal charges he says are politically motivated.
The UN envoy, Surya Subedi, has in the past called for reforms if the July election is to meet international standards. He arrived in Phnom Penh Sunday for a weeklong visit.
Kem Sokha, vice president of the Rescue Party, said Tuesday they had talked in detail about resolutions to the opposition’s concerns for the upcoming elections. They also discussed what could be done further if the NEC does not have time to make reforms ahead of the July 27 election, he said.
The sides also discussed the exile of Sam Rainsy, Kem Sokha said, but he declined to give details, saying Subedi will give a press conference on Saturday.
The talks come a day after a large demonstration by opposition supporters in Phnom Penh calling for election reforms. Kem Sokha told reporters Monday the opposition would boycott the results of an election that is not free and fair.
Chheang Vun, a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said Tuesday that talks with Subedi could lead to a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Hun Sen has in the past refused to see Subedi, following the envoy’s critical remarks on the country’s rights environment. Hun Sen once called Subedi “a long-term tourist.”
Tep Nitha, secretary-general of the NEC, said Monday that the reform suggestions by the opposition are “just their personal idea.” And government spokesman Phay Siphan called Monday’s demonstration an attempt to “impress the mass media.”