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Sokha, UK envoy sit down

Sokha, UK envoy sit down

Deputy opposition leader and parliamentary First Deputy President Kem Sokha met yesterday with Tom Dodd, the UK’s top diplomat for ASEAN, discussing National Assembly reforms and possible cooperation between the two nations’ parliaments.

Sokha’s Cambodia National Rescue Party, which he represented yesterday as party leader Sam Rainsy is overseas, has said in the past that it hoped to mimic a British style of parliamentary opposition in Cambodia, including a shadow cabinet.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that the meeting saw the discussion of the opposition’s democratic vision for Cambodia, political and legal reforms, and the CNRP’s policies towards Vietnamese immigrants.

Opposition leaders’ rhetoric regarding ethnic Vietnamese has long been a point of concern for the international community.

The UK Embassy said yesterday that Dodd had explained to Sokha that the opposition here, as in Britain, had “an important role to play in enabling democracy and promoting accountability of the government”.

As a result of “commonalities”, given the two countries were both constitutional monarchies, Dodd suggested that the UK could “share some of our experience with Cambodian MPs”, deputy head of mission Michelle Broadbent said in an email.

She added that “this offer would not be specific to the CNRP but if taken forward would be offered to Parliamentarians from both parties” in the spirit of cooperation.

Dodd, who has also met with Foreign Ministry officials, did not directly ask about the CNRP’s policies towards the Vietnamese, she said.

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