Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy called on Prime Minister Hun Sen to return to a culture of dialogue fostered between the now-dissolved CNRP and the ruling CPP in 2014.
Mr Rainsy said in the tweet yesterday that he wanted Mr Hun Sen to return to the culture of dialogue between the CNRP and the CPP for the sake of democracy.
“I urge Hun Sen not to take everything personally. I hope he does not do this as a pretext to kill starting a dialogue that could lead to a compromise opening the way for democratic change,” Mr Rainsy said. “To show statesmanship we have to put aside our personal feelings and concentrate on the national interest. In the long run, dialogue is inevitable because it is the basis of civil peace and democracy.”
The culture of dialogue began in 2014 when Mr Rainsy and Mr Hun Sen reached an agreement to end the opposition’s boycott of the National Assembly following the 2013 election, which the CNRP would not recognize as legitimate.
It continued into 2015, when the two leaders and their families had dinner together and posed for selfies used on social media. But the short-lived dialogue broke down months later.
Mr Rainsy has lived in self-imposed exile since 2015 after being hit with slew of court cases, including by Mr Hun Sen who accused him of defamation.
Mr Rainsy stepped down as leader of the CNRP in February 2017 because of his criminal history.
Afterwards, Kem Sokha took over as party leader, but he has since been jailed on treason charges for allegedly conspiring with a foreign power to overthrow the government through a colour revolution.
But the premier said last week that he would not talk with Mr Rainsy.
“Hun Sen does not negotiate with a group of people being imprisoned,” Mr Hun Sen said. “The key is in Hun Sen’s hand.”
Sok Eysan, spokesman for the ruling CPP, said it was impossible to resume the culture of dialogue since Mr Rainsy destroyed it in the first place.
“It is too late now and negotiations would not happen because Sam Rainsy himself killed the culture of dialogue,” Mr Eysan said.
Mr Eysan said that the derailment of the dialogue occurred because Mr Rainsy kept attacking the ruling CPP although Mr Hun Sen tried to keep it alive.