Khmer Times/Taing Vida Wednesday, 18 January 2017 1140 views

Negotiations stalled again

The ruling party set and then canceled a date for negotiations with the opposition to give the National Assembly (NA) time to review a proposed amendment of internal regulations that would abolish the role of majority and minority leaders.

Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for Interior Minister Sar Kheng, on Monday sent a note to acting opposition president Kem Sokha about a meeting on January 25, but canceled the meeting yesterday without setting a new date.

Mr. Sopheak said Mr. Kheng had chosen the date for the meeting before Prime Minister Hun Sen had requested a review of the NA’s internal regulations, so he decided to delay the meeting to give the NA adequate time for the review.

“The role of majority and minority leaders was created in 2015 and this role is not necessary at all,” Mr. Sopheak said.

“The congress meeting is more important than the group leaders meeting because the National Assembly consists of 68 [ruling party] CPP lawmakers and 55 [opposition party] CNRP lawmakers that each play the same role.”

He added that negotiation is impossible if it is for the personal benefit of either party. Negotiations must benefit the nation or jointly benefit both parties, he said.

Mr. Sokha made no reaction to the cancellation on Facebook, while senior CNRP official Eng Chhay Eang called it a drama.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said his party was ready for negotiations and said he thinks the CPP’s decision will affect how the public views the ruling party.

“We will keep on seeking a solution. The roles are not important. What is important is the work we are doing for the nation,” he said.

Mr. Hun Sen on Monday threatened to amend the NA’s internal regulations to repeal article 48, which talks about the functions and roles of majority and minority leaders, after the two parties offered different agenda items for discussion at the NA.

Amending article 48 would cause Mr. Sokha to lose his role as minority leader, which he received on December 6, and the opportunity for negotiation with majority leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Kheng.

Leng Peng Long, the secretary-general and spokesman of the NA, said he had not received any proposal to amend internal regulations and said the NA would resume sessions by April. However, he said an assembly session could be held under special circumstances.

“The law allows the NA to conduct a session at any time if requested by one-third of parliament lawmakers, initiated by the prime minister. So far, we have not received any information about the amendment,” he said.

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