Alliance Says It Still Wants 3-Party Deal

The Alliance of Democrats is sticking to its calls to form a new tripartite government, officials said, though a decision on the Alliance’s next move will have to come from Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

“We still want a three-party government,” Ok Socheat, Funcin­pec’s deputy secretary-general, said Monday. But, he said: “It’s up to Prince Ranariddh.”

Before he left for Europe to meet with politicians there earlier this month, Prince Ranariddh said he would meet alone with Prime Minister Hun Sen upon his return to Cambodia in an attempt to end the months-long political deadlock.

Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou said Prince Ranariddh will return next week, but he did not give a specific date.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay on Monday said some people within the Alliance are concerned that Hun Sen might make an offer to the prince that would compromise Funcinpec’s alliance with the opposition party.

“We never know what can happen because in the past, it has been a big surprise,” Son Chhay said, referring to Funcinpec’s eventual agreement to join a coalition government with the CPP ending the post-1998 election deadlock.

“Whatever [Prince Ranariddh] is thinking, we have to wait and see,” he said.

Others, however, said the Alliance remains adamant in rejecting a two-party government, despite King Norodom Sihanouk’s request that the three main political parties stop negotiating on the basis of their Nov 5 agreement.

In that agreement, the three parties tentatively approved forming a coalition government together and accepted Hun Sen’s candidacy to remain premier.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said the Alliance will uphold that agreement.

“We are always adhering to the spirit of Nov 5,” Sam Rainsy said upon his arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport from France.

“I would like to tell the group of Mr Hun Sen that the more they insist on a two-party government, the more shame they will get. Because this is a dream,” he said.

Last week, King Sihanouk urged the parties to stop referring to the Nov 5 agreement, saying the parties were interpreting it in different ways.

In a statement on Sunday, the King also opened up the possibility of creating a two-party government.

The parties could abandon “if we want, the formula of ‘tripartism’ to try to set up a new bipartite government,” he said, noting the political deadlock has prolonged the formation of the National Assembly and government for nearly seven months.

“Funcinpec respects the King. At the same time, Funcinpec must listen to the wish of the electorates [who say] the Alliance should work together” in the new government, said royalist party spokesman Kassie Neou.

Political analyst Koul Panha said he was worried that abandoning the Nov 5 agreement might only prolong the political deadlock.

“If they talk about two- or three-party government now, it will set back the negotiations and they will have to rediscuss,” said Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections.

Hun Sen advisor Om Yentieng declined to comment on Monday.

“At this moment, I close my mouth,” he said.

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