Alliance Puts Forth Second Pick for PM

The Alliance of Democrats would endorse CPP Co-Minister of Interior Sar Kheng as a candidate for the new prime minister, Funcinpec and Alliance spokes­man Kassie Neou said Thursday.

Sticking to the Alliance’s vow to stay out of a coalition government led by CPP Prime Minister Hun Sen, Kassie Neou said the newly formed union between the Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec would accept a new three-party government headed by Sar Kheng if Chea Sim declined the position.

The Sam Rainsy Party proposed after the election that CPP Pres­i­dent Chea Sim be named prime minister and Hun Sen be given the presidency of the National Assembly, while Sam Rainsy would be a deputy prime minister and Funcinpec President Prince Nor­o­dom Ranariddh would become the Senate’s president.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Ung Bun-Ang said Thursday: “We are interested in everyone else for prime minister who is not Hun Sen.”

CPP officials, however, repeated that they continue to back Hun Sen as prime minister.

“Till this hour, we support Hun Sen,” Sar Kheng said Wednesday.

While Alliance officials have not officially met with the CPP, Kassie Neou said they will bring to the bargaining table a proposal that would give the Alliance control of the Assembly, while CPP would remain at the helm of the new government.

He said the Alliance will negotiate for the position of Assembly president, as well as one of two vice president positions in the Assembly. It will also bargain for two deputy prime minister positions in the Council of Ministers. Those two government positions would be filled by one Funcinpec official and one Sam Rainsy official, he said.

Ung Bun-Ang confirmed this proposal.

But CPP officials maintained Wednesday they would not negotiate with the Alliance and would only meet individually with Fun­cin­pec and the Sam Rainsy Party .

“We do not need to talk with the democratic alliance as it has not been stipulated in the Con­sti­tution,” Heng Samrin, the CPP’s honorary president, said.

But Kassie Neou said Thurs­day that negotiations between the CPP and the Alliance must be held by the Sept 26 deadline for the new Assembly to convene its first meeting. If not, he said, the CPP will not have a two-thirds majority required to appoint a new Assem­bly president.

He added that any negotiations between the CPP and the Alliance should be headed by Funcinpec and Alliance President Prince Ranariddh and Chea Sim.

“Official talks should be be­tween party president and party president,” he said. But he did not rule out the possibility of holding official negotiations with Hun Sen.

Meanwhile, King Norodom Sihanouk issued a statement Thursday saying “sooner or later [the Alliance] will have to negotiate with the inevitable and monumental Samdech Hun Sen, assuming he accepts such a negotiation.”

The King restated his neutrality in the letter and said he would not interfere in the post-election political wrangling unless he re­ceives a joint request from all three parties.

But he warned the Alliance that their stance against Hun Sen would render it powerless and cause the prime minister to be­come a “de facto dictator” until the next general election in 2008, “as­suming that this lamentable second kingdom and this disconcerting constitution survive until then.”

He also compared any unforeseen consequences of the Alliance to the rise of Adolf Hitler in Ger­ma­ny, saying history “is full of strange and sometimes ultra-catastrophic consequences.”

Speaking to reporters Thurs­day afternoon, opposition leader and Alliance First Deputy President Sam Rainsy said the Alliance would not hold demonstrations following the general elections, despite his earlier statement that his party would consider launching street protests against the poll results.

“We’re in a position to achieve our goals without street demonstrations,” he said. “We do not want to have demonstrations but we will apply pressure with diplomacy and support from outside.”

Sam Rainsy said he was to fly to Paris Thursday night and then to the US, where he will meet Prince Ranariddh in Long Beach, in  California state. Sam Rain­sy also said he would speak to US Sena­tor John McCain and other senators in a meeting arranged by the International Republican Institute.

After a meeting at the National Assembly, Prince Ranariddh told reporters he will meet with former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright and several US senators, but he gave no further details.

The prince arrived in Phnom Penh Thursday morning from Malaysia, where he took a two-day vacation, Kassie Neou said.

Kassie Neou added that the prince’s plans to travel outside the country, including a trip to Manila later this week for a meeting of the Association of Asian Parlia­men­tar­ians for Peace, were still tentative.

“We need him here in this crisis,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Dem­ocrats issued a statement Thursday appointing Funcinpec parliamentarian Princess Noro­dom Vacheara as special adviser to Prince Ranariddh after she did not receive a top position in the Alliance’s executive council.

At the launching ceremony of the Alliance last week, Prince Ran­a­riddh did not state why the prin­cess was not included in the executive council. Funcin­pec officials said last week that Princess Va­cheara was in France.

(Report­ing by Thet Sambath, Porter Bar­ron, Alex Halperin and Wency Leung)

 

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