PHNOM PENH – King Norodom Sihamoni was able to bring Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy together in a meeting for the first time in years Saturday, urging them to find a peaceful resolution to the Cambodia elections 2013 stalemate that has gripped the nation, the Bangkok Post reports.
Though no agreement was reached during the 20-minute meeting at the Royal Palace, the rivals will meet again Monday for further talks, said an opposition official.
Just a few days ago, Cambodia’s King had come under criticism for not intervening in the ongoing election dispute, according to a news report by Radio Free Asia’s Khmer Service
Sam Rainsy’s opposition party claims it would have won the July 28 election had it been fair, and has vowed a new wave of protests Sunday unless an independent committee is set up to investigate alleged widespread voting irregularities
Prime Minister Hun Sen was declared the winner in the election, and his government has rejected the opposition demands. Observers fear the protests could trigger violence.
At the meeting, King Sihamoni read a statement saying he was “begging the leaders of the two parties to cooperate” to overcome their political differences in the interest of “maintaining peace and stability” in Cambodia.
The King also urged all elected lawmakers to attend the opening session of parliament on September 23, over which he will preside.
The opposition has threatened to boycott the session unless the dispute is resolved.
After Saturday’s meeting, Hun Sen left without commenting. In answering reporters’ questions about what had come from the meeting, Rainsy replied, “No, no, there is nothing.”
Though the ruling party maintained a majority of the seats in parliament, the opposition made major gains in the July election. Official results gave the Cambodian People’s Party 68 seats and the Cambodian Naional Rescue Party 55.
This week, opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said, “The king is the only person right now who can get these two parties to meet and discuss all their differences”.
Just prior to the disputed July election, King Sihamoni pardoned the self-exiled Rainsy at Hun Sen’s request. The Prime Minister was likely bowing to international pressure in order to legitimise the election.
Rainsy returned to Cambodia before the vote, but it was too late to register as a candidate and run himself.
The opposition plans another mass Phnom Penh protest Sunday, with leaders expecting 20,000 people to attend the demonstration. The protest, they say, will continue for three days. Image/Phnom Penh Post