CAMBODIA

Cambodia's political deadlock over as Hun Sen, Sam Rainsy shake on a deal

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 July, 2014, 11:27pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 July, 2014, 11:27pm
AP

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Prime Minister Hun Sen and Cambodian opposition parties said they had agreed an end to political deadlock and the opposition's year-long boycott of the national legislature.

Hun Sen, opposition leader Sam Rainsy and others met for five hours yesterday in the third round of talks since lawmakers from Sam Rainsy's Cambodia National Rescue Party boycotted their seats in parliament after elections last July. The opposition alleged the polls were rigged, and demanded reforms and new elections.

"It was a success. Now you can applaud," said Hun Sen, who was seen smiling when walking out of the meeting room. Sam Rainsy said the two leaders must seek an audience with King Narodom Sihamoni to inform the monarch of the agreement before the 55 MPs-elect from his party swear in and join the meeting of the National Assembly.

"We have no choice. The only suitable choice is to end the political crisis, to end the stand-off," Sam Rainsy said.

A joint statement said the parties agreed to work together at the National Assembly in order to solve important issues and to reform some institutions.

"Both parties agreed to do a reforming and strengthening to some major state institutions, especially independent institutions that could serve the benefit of the nation, the people and comply with pluralism democracy," they said in the statement.

The parties also said they agreed to change the date of upcoming elections but did not say when. The next general election is scheduled for July 2018.

The talks came after last week's arrest of seven opposition lawmakers and another party activist after violence broke out when party members tried to stage a rally at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh.

Hun Sen has been in power for almost 30 years and, despite Cambodia being formally democratic, his government is authoritarian and known for intimidating opponents. A strong showing by Sam Rainsy's party in last year's polls posed the strongest challenge to Hun Sen in years.