News / Asia

    Cambodia's Hun Sen, Opposition Leader Announce Deal Ending Deadlock

    Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, talks with the main Opposition Party leader Sam Rainsy, left, of Cambodia National Rescue Party, after their meeting in Senate headquarters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 22, 2012.
    Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, talks with the main Opposition Party leader Sam Rainsy, left, of Cambodia National Rescue Party, after their meeting in Senate headquarters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 22, 2012.
    Ron Corben

    Cambodia's Prime Minister and opposition parties have announced an agreement ending nearly a year of political deadlock that is expected to enable the National Assembly to fully reopen.
     
    The agreement between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy followed five hours of closed-door talks Tuesday - the third round of discussions since the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party boycotted parliament after the July 2013 elections.
     
    The opposition had refused to take up their 55 seats in parliament, alleging the polls were rigged. They had called for reforms before fresh elections.
        
    In the settlement, both sides agreed to work together at the National Assembly to solve major issues and reform independent institutions to "benefit the nation, the people" and democratic pluralism.
     
    Sim Sooya, director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, said the agreement marked a major step forward after the year of political conflict.

    "I really congratulate both parties for political maturity as of today and I'd like if both parties work together Cambodia will develop faster and as a more egalitarian society. This is a very positive step, and this is very promising for the future of Cambodia. I think this is the beginning of everything good," said Sim Sooya.
     
    The agreement was also marked by steps to release seven opposition lawmakers and a party activist detained last Tuesday after violence erupted near Freedom Park in Phnom Penh, in clashes with security guards when the opposition attempted to stage a rally.
     
    The lawmakers were facing charges ranging from insurrection to inciting violence that carry possible lengthy jail terms if found guilty.
     
    Hun Sen has been in power for almost three decades and is known for his autocratic style of government, but was all smiles at the end of the talks, calling them a "success."
     
    Sam Rainsy, who had spent several years in exile before returning to Cambodia just prior to last year's elections, flew to Phnom Penh Saturday, saying that talks were the only solution to the political deadlock.
     
    Political scientist Carl Thayer of the Australian-based University of New South Wales, said that although the agreement draws Sam Rainsy back into the political process, the political outlook remains uncertain.
     
    "The way Hun Sen plays the game in the past is that any time an arrangement like this can be completely overturned if the opposition takes a stance or does things that he disagrees with. I'm not going to be overwhelmingly optimistic nor I'm not going to be completely convinced that they've turned the corner until we've seen the passage of time," Thayer stated.
     
    The talks also settled on pressing on with new elections but no final date has been set. Under the existing election timetable, Cambodia had been due for new national polls in July 2018.
     
     

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Poor Khmer
    July 23, 2014 11:24 AM
    I am amazed how Samrainsy and Kem Sokha continue to play this type of game with the devil Hun Sen who has never respected any agreement in the past. He always overturned it whenever he wanted and needed to.

    by: John
    July 23, 2014 10:55 AM
    So Rainsy is making a deal to free the hostages. Since he's acting from a position of total weakness, no doubt this is the best he can do. The fact is that Hun Sen is a Vietnamese client, and, since the guerrilla war was shut down, no one cares to oppose him. The only reason there is even a fig leaf of opposition is to bilk money from the Western taxpayer. I might as well add that I agreed with shutting down the war. The average Cambodian thereby obtained at least a little peace and stability. The results of the Libyan intervention and the Iraq war show this is not to be despised.

    by: Sony from: Stockton California
    July 22, 2014 12:23 PM
    Sam Raunsy & Kem Sokha, you two need to stand with your supporters around the globe , don't agree to what just for yourself"

    by: Apsaravideo from: Long Beach, CA
    July 22, 2014 10:14 AM
    After 30 years ruling Cambodia, Hun Sen must step down to save little of what's left of his dignity.

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