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UN welcomes Cambodia electoral reform agreement

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia [official website] Surya Subedi on Thursday announced [press release] support for a five-point electoral reform agreement reached by Cambodia's two main political parties, the Cambodian People's Party and the Cambodian National Rescue Party. The two parties agreed on two key measures on electoral reform: to review the voter registry and to elaborate a draft law on the financing of political parties. In his statement, Subedi stated, "The matters to be discussed [. . .] are of concern to all Cambodians. Those are issues on which all Cambodians have the fundamental human right to express themselves, whether through demonstrations, marches or other means."

The Cambodian government has been criticized for its response to protests in the capitol Phnom Penh. Since last year, members of the opposition have been boycotting the Cambodian National Assembly, which has led to public demonstrations and protests. The violence stemming from the public demonstrations led to the imposition of a ban against public protest in January, which was lifted in February. Subedi called for the government and opposition parties of Cambodia to end their ongoing political impasse [text], resulting from contested July 2013 elections, and come together on human rights reforms. Also in January, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] called on Cambodian authorities to show restraint [JURIST report] in dealing with protesters. That month, Cambodian police released five activists [JURIST report] that had been arrested for petitioning the French Embassy to release 23 demonstrators detained for opposing the Government's labor and political policies. The protests began January 3 when police opened fire [BBC report] on striking textile workers in Phnom Penh. Political tension has been high since the Cambodia National Rescue Party [official website], Cambodia's opposition party, disputed the results [JURIST report] of the country's July 2013 elections.

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