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UN Envoy Says He Would Consider Mediating Political Talks

U.N. special rapporteur Surya Subedi walks through a Cambodian national flag upon his arrival in a conference room at the U.N. headquarter in Phnom Penh, file photo.

The UN’s special human rights envoy to Cambodia says he would consider mediating political talks between Cambodia’s ruling and opposition parties if official requests were made.

The envoy, Surya Subedi, is in Phnom Penh on a fact-finding mission, following the deadly crackdowns on protesters workers earlier this month.

In a meeting between Subedi and Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday, the premier said he would like Subedi to help end the political deadlock that has been in place since July’s elections.

No official request was made for Subedi to mediate discussions, though Subedi said the international community was ready to assist in helping both sides reach a settlement, according to a statement from the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Subedi told reporters Thursday that he would consider the role of mediator if he received an official request from both sides, and if the UN itself requested him to take on the task.

The ruling and opposition parties remain at odds over July’s election results, with the opposition refusing to join the government and calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Sam Rainsy, president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, said Thursday if a request for mediation were made, it should come from both the opposition and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, told VOA Khmer Wednesday that mediation would be a “good start.” A mediator can help point out to either side the benefits of concessions from a neutral position, he said.

Hang Puthea, head of the election-monitoring group Nicfec, said mediation might be possible now, since both sides may have softened their stances in the wake of violent crackdowns on protests in recent weeks.

However, Schanley Kuch, a political analyst in the US, said he would “cautiously” welcome mediation by the UN. “I don’t have much expectation about seeking solutions through the UN at all,” he said.