Cambodia’s long-serving prime minister said Wednesday that his party was willing to talk with the opposition to resolve complaints that last weekend’s general election was unfair. The gesture, from a leader not usually given to compromise, represents an acknowledgement that his opponents’ strong showing in the polls could threaten his grip on power. Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party has claimed that it won 68 parliamentary seats to the opposition’s 55 in Sunday’s election according to provisional official results. However, the opposition, which increased its number of seats from 29 in the last National Assembly, could boycott the opening of parliament, leaving the lawmaking body short of a quorum and stymieing the formation of a new government.
Hun Sen spoke at his first public appearance since Sunday’s polls, striking a conciliatory tone without making any major commitments. He said his Cambodian People’s Party was ready to compromise.
The prime minister said that senior officials from his party were ready to open talks with their counterparts in the opposition, and that while he felt constrained from taking part because he was in mourning for the recent death of his father, he would talk directly with opposition leader Sam Rainsy if necessary.
His offer came after Sam Rainsy’s opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party escalated its challenge to the election results, claiming it had actually won a majority of assembly seats. The party did not immediately respond to Hun Sen’s remarks.