Cambodia talks after election protest clashes

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, left, shakes hands with opposition party leader Sam Rainsy, right, after a meeting, as Sar Kheng, center, deputy prime minister, looks on at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, 16 September 2013 Image copyright AP
Image caption Hun Sen, left, issued a joint statement with Sam Rainsy, right

Cambodia's political rivals have held talks, a day after protests in Phnom Penh over contested election results left one person dead.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power for 28 years, met opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Monday.

They issued a joint statement promising more talks, election commission reform and a non-violent end to the dispute.

The opposition has accused the ruling party of widespread fraud in July's general election.

According to results from the National Election Commission, Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won 68 seats to the CNRP's 55 seats - a greatly reduced majority.

The opposition says the vote was rigged and wants an independent inquiry. It also says it will boycott the opening of parliament on 23 September.

Despite the joint statement, the central issues of the disputed election and the opposition's threat to boycott parliament remain unresolved, says the BBC's Jonah Fisher in neighbouring Bangkok.


The talks followed reports of sporadic clashes on Sunday, as thousands of opposition supporters demonstrated in the capital.

During the day, tens of thousands of supporters gathered peacefully to hear Sam Rainsy speak.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Clashes erupted in Phnom Penh late on Sunday after a day of protest

Some demonstrators left Freedom Park, the area designated for the protest, and tried to remove roadblocks that blocked access to the Royal Palace.

This led to clashes with the police, although calm was restored after Mr Rainsy met the crowd and urged a return to Freedom Park, reports said.

Later in the day, more violent clashes erupted at a bridge in Phnom Phenh. One man died after being shot in the head, activists and a human rights group said. At least six other people were reported injured.

A spokesman for the National Military Police told Reuters news agency police had used tear gas, batons and smoke grenades.

"I don't know how he was killed. We didn't use live bullets," he said.

In a statement on Monday, Mr Rainsy's opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) said that it "strongly condemns the violent, brutal act of the police".

It added that it did not condone the "small group of opportunists" who had caused trouble during the protests.

'Stop the violence'

More than 1,000 protestors stayed in Freedom Park on Sunday, despite orders to leave by nightfall, Reuters news agency reported.

They were joined by more protestors on Monday morning, reports said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Opposition supporters have planned at least three days of protests

Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni offered condolences to the families of those hurt in the clashes.

"I would like to appeal to compatriots - both demonstrators and the authorities - to stop all violence such as throwing rocks and using weapons," he said.

Analysts say 61-year-old Hun Sen - who has vowed to stay in power until he is in his seventies - faces one of his biggest tests.

With state institutions - including the election commission - under the thumb of Hun Sen, protests are the only way opposition supporters can challenge the result, correspondents say.

More on this story