The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the opposition, Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), on February 18 agreed to set up a joint committee to discuss the reform of the electoral mechanism in the future.

The joint committee, which will comprise an equal number of members from both sides, was established in order to study and prepare a framework for electoral reform in line with the principle of democracy and legality to ensure proper, free and fair elections in the future, said a joint statement released after a meeting between working groups of the CPP and CNRP.

The joint committee will hold a national seminar to hear opinions and recommendations from national and international circles, including development partners, political parties, civil society organisations and other players, it said.

CPP negotiation team leader Prum Sokha and CNRP team leader Son Chay said the two sides will report the outcomes of the meeting to their respective leaders, and agreed to meet again before setting a top meeting for the leaders of the two parties.

Prum Sokha said the CPP team came to the meeting 15 minutes early, which shows the party’s goodwill. Meanwhile, Son Chay said the meeting came to fruition.

A political row between the CPP and CNRP has persisted since the July 2013 election results showed that the CPP won 68 parliamentary seats against the 55 seats got by the CNRP.

Claiming serious irregularities during the poll, the CNRP refused to accept the results and demanded the establishment of an independent committee for investigation. It has boycotted parliament and held many protests demanding for a re-election, all rejected by the CPP.

The two parties have held several meetings, including between Prime Minister Hun Sen and CNRP leader Sam Rainsy last September, but have failed to reach any agreement.-VNA