Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy forged a landmark agreement Tuesday that will see the opposition end a one-year boycott of parliament and the ruling party adopt key reforms to the country’s electoral body. The agreement broke a year-long political impasse following disputed July 2013 general elections in which Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) was declared the victor by the government-appointed National Election Committee (NEC) despite allegations of widespread irregularities. The pact was announced in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh after a five-hour meeting between the CPP and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) led by Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy. The agreement led to the immediate release of seven CNRP lawmakers and another opposition politician from jail following their arrest last week on charges of waging an “insurrection” which could see them being imprisoned for up to 30 years if convicted. … In a key compromise that led to the end of the CNRP boycott of parliament, the CPP and CNRP agreed Tuesday that each party could appoint four members to the NEC, with the ninth member to be jointly picked.
The NEC membership will have to be endorsed by parliament with a simple majority instead of a two-thirds majority as demanded by the CNRP, according to the agreement.
“Both parties have agreed to reform the National Election Committee … membership now has to be appointed by the National Assembly with the majority vote of the whole parliament,” it said.
CPP negotiation team leader Prum Sokha told reporters that NEC reform had been the “main point of controversy” during the talks.
“But in the meeting between the two top party leaders, both agreed to make guidelines for the composition of the body more clear and specific in the constitution.”