Saturday, March 22, 2014

Can Negotiation Move Forward?

CPP-CNRP negotiation teams (Google image)

The two major parties have failed to reach political solution since the post-election crisis started over the past eight months, for they have accused each other for insincere talk.  Now we try to look at the facts who is the real culprit.  To solve the crisis successfully, first they must identify the cause of the problem, and in this scenario we know that one party had created the problem and asked the other to solve it.  And such a problem can be solved if and only if the problem maker is willing to solve it sincerely.  It is ostensibly that the CPP is a real trouble maker by systematically creating a deeply flaw electoral system that definitely deprives the other competitors from winning the election such as intimidation, unequal access to media, vote buying, ghost list of voters, disfranchised people suspected supporting other parties, and importantly the National Election Committee (NEC) is too bias to run the election.  All these issues are the roots to the post-election crisis that has crippled the country over the past eight months and no any sign of ending soon despite the two parties agreed to the 14 points on the agendas, for those points are too vague and broad ,and each party will reject any of those when it comes into detailed discussion particularly on the election and NEC reform, the most important issue among the 14 points.

We don't have to mull too much about the CPP's sincerity but look at its actions toward the opposition and their supporters, we can make a clear judgement who wants to solve the problem honestly.  The CPP always calls for the opposition to negotiate while at the same time it ordered the security forces to violently disperse peaceful protest and to ban all kinds of rally.  Just a few weeks ago the government chased all garment workers from celebrating the Woman Day at Freedom Park, and then the CPP supporters and local authorities intimidated and disrupted the opposition rallies in the provinces from expressing their opinions.  These ominous actions have been committed by the CPP's members persistently and systematically wherever there are the opposition rallies.  And at the negotiation table, the CPP tries to present its agenda in vague and broad meanings such as a frame work of election reform to make a public headlines while actually the CPP shunned away to talk about the NEC and electoral reform that is the key issue to the CNRP's demands.  Publicly, however, Prum Sokha, a CPP's spokesman, claimed that the CPP is always honest to negotiate, and he asked the public to make a judgement.

To test the CPP's sincerity, the CNRP has to push with its key demands--to thoroughly reform the NEC and to redo the election; these are the least demands that the CNRP has to stick with in order to solve the crisis fairly and acceptably for both sides. Without such a clear demand, the negotiation will go nowhere but to entertain the CPP to buy time for its power grip.  If the CPP is willing to end the current crisis peacefully, it must agree to a new free and fair election so that the people will trust who is a real winner and have a peace in their minds that attributes to social and political stability.  But if the CPP just wants to force the CNRP to accept its own terms of negotiation leaving the key issue unsettled, there will be more troubles ahead.  And if the current political stalemate has been going on, Cambodia may lose financial assistance from most donors and foreign investments though currently there is no any sign of happening yet.  Furthermore, Hun Sen may rule the country under the name of an illegitimate government and undemocratic process that is against the democratic principle guaranteed by the Paris Peace Accord and the Constitution.

Now the two parties must focus on the key issue--the restructure of NEC and election system--if this issue has been honestly solved, the other issues will be more likely to move along, and it will prove  the CPP's honesty whether it dares to dismantle the current flagrant NEC.  If the CPP agrees on this key issue, the two parties will archive 50 percent of their negotiation and other 50 percent is to schedule a midterm election.  In short, if the NEC restructure and the new election are agreed upon, the common ground has been found to end the political stalemate.  But if the CPP still rejects this key issue, the negotiation will collapse again, and it clearly shows the CPP's real culprit in negotiation.  Without an agreement on this core issue--the NEC and election system restructure--The CNRP has nothing to talk with the CPP, and it has to walk away with clean hands, allowing the people to make judgement on their own as the CPP already has warned the CNRP to bear responsibility in front of the people if it walks away from negotiation.

 Nearly 8 months long, the two parties are not in any closer position to end this post-election crisis though they agreed on the broadened term of the 14 points including election reform--one of the two key demands that the CNRP has insisted.  Now it's time for the two parties to break a political impasse; so far, the CNRP has honestly softened its stand from demanding independent election inquiry and Hun Sen's resignation to the more acceptable term for the CPP: to reform NEC and to set a new election.  This is the most feasible demand that the CPP should consider it in order to end the current crisis fairly and peacefully.  If the CPP doesn't accept this reasonable solution, don't blame the CNRP for any failure in negotiation, and the CNRP has its reasonable right to walk away from the futile negotiation imposed by the CPP.  Ultimately, the CPP must be responsible in front of the people court, not the CNRP.  In the next few weeks, the people will see who is more sincerely to end the current crisis, and all the CNRP's supporters should give the party leadership time to conduct negotiation with the CPP in order to search for a possible and acceptable solution for all sides in order to avert more violence.

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