January 15, 2014 / 10:01 AM / 6 years ago

Cambodian opposition said to be seeking compromise with PM

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia’s opposition has been in talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen to find a deal to end the political crisis caused by last year’s disputed general election and a compromise may be near, two analysts briefed on the matter said.

Sam Rainsy (R), leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), arrives at the Municipal Court in central Phnom Penh January 14, 2014. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy and his deputy, Kem Sokha, had written to Hun Sen via a mediator seeking a “compromise for national reconciliation”, independent analysts Kem Ley and Heang Rithy told Reuters on Wednesday.

“I have seen a letter that Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had written to Prime Minister Hun Sen, outlining four points,” said Heang Rithy, president of the Cambodian National Research Organization.

Hun Sen, who has been in power for 28 years, was returned to power in an election last July that the opposition called fraudulent.

Heang Rithy and Kem Ley said Sam Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) wanted the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to agree to a fresh election in 2015 or 2016, give it the chairmanship of some parliamentary commissions, allow it to run a television station and agree to look at electoral reforms.

The CNRP had also asked to have the deputy presidency of the National Assembly, dropping its demand for the presidency, Kem Ley said, adding that in return the opposition party would end its boycott of parliament.

“There have been secret talks through a third party and the third party has informed us that much has been agreed on, about 80 percent,” said social analyst Kem Ley.

Sam Rainsy led tens of thousands of CNRP supporters and allied striking garment workers on rallies and marches against Hun Sen until a crackdown by security forces in early January, when five strikers were shot dead and the protests were halted.

He denied secret talks had taken place and said his party had not discussed any power-sharing in parliament.

“The two parties keep contacting each other and are prepared to meet at a certain level, so it’s not a secret,” Sam Rainsy told Reuters.

He confirmed the CNRP wanted a new election and a television licence, which would help counter the exposure Hun Sen got on state television. “There are some ideas, we’ve made some relationships, on and off. Nothing has been agreed yet. There is no result yet,” he said.

Senior CPP member Cheam Yeap said he was unaware of any talks between the parties. Hun Sen has given no sign he might be interested in an early election.

“I would like to thank the people in the whole country who voted for the CPP and trusted in me to continue to be prime minister for the next five years,” he said this week.

Editing by Alan Raybould and Robert Birsel

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