Alliance Leaders Meet to Firm Political Position

Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and opposition leader Sam Rainsy met for two hours Monday, a meeting that Alliance of Democrats officials said was aimed at solidifying their stance to navigate the nearly eight-month-long political deadlock together.

The meeting was their first since Prince Ranariddh returned to Phnom Penh Saturday after visiting politicians in Europe. Prince Ranariddh had left the country in early February.

Prince Ranariddh left Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Noro­dom Siri­vudh’s residence Monday evening without speaking to re­porters. Offi­cials did not allow reporters to speak to Sam Rainsy.

The meeting also included talks with officials from the US-based International Republican Institute, who also declined to comment on their discussions with the press.

Sam Rainsy, who was in Tai­wan over the weekend for a meeting of liberal Asian opposition parties, returned to Phnom Penh Monday morning. Upon his arrival at Phnom Penh Interna­tional Air­port, he said he was confident the Alliance would stick together, de­spite recent comments from Fun­­cin­pec officials expressing dissatisfaction with the Sam Rainsy Party.

“I have confidence that the Alli­ance of Democrats’ stance is still firm. Whenever we decide something, we decide together,” he told reporters.

He repeated that the Alliance’s first choice was to push for a new government of all three main parties. If that failed, he said, the Alliance would allow the CPP to form a government alone.

The CPP, however, has insisted it is only interested in creating a two-party coalition government with Fun­cinpec. Saturday, Prince Ra­na­riddh said he would continue to press for a tripartite government and dismissed claims that his party was fractured over its decision to stick with the opposition.

Sam Rainsy echoed Monday Prince Ranariddh’s statements, saying the relationship between the two parties was still strong, despite recent criticisms published against senior Funcinpec officials by pro-opposition newspapers. He did not specify the incidents of negative coverage.

“Newspapers have independent reporters and authors. They can write whatever they want,” Sam Rainsy said.

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