Alliance Says It’s Set to Start Talks With CPP Ready to Start Negotiating With CPP PM Says It Is Ready to Negotiate Assembly Leadership

Despite a lingering “climate of fear,” Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party officials said Monday they were now ready to begin ne­gotiations with the CPP to resolve the ongoing political deadlock.

“The climate of fear is still very high,” Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou said, adding that some members of his party continue to worry about their safety following the murder of a pro-Funcinpec radio journalist less than two weeks ago.

Even so, he said, “We are ready to meet and negotiate anytime. It’s now up to the CPP.”

The killing of Ta Prohm radio jour­nalist Chuor Chetharith on Oct 18, which both parties called a pol­itically motivated at­tack, spurred the cancellation last week of three-party talks to be convened by King Nor­o­­dom Sihanouk.

Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party said they could not begin negotiations with the CPP on the formation of a new government and National Assembly as long as they felt their members and supporters were being threatened.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Ung Bun-Ang also said the two parties were now willing to meet with the CPP to discuss the chairmanship of the Assembly. He said talks on the formation of the new government—and the contentious issue of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s continued premiership—could be left for later.

Ung Bun-Ang said: “If Hun Sen can get two-thirds of the confidence vote [from the Assembly to remain premier], that’s good….  That is democracy.”

He added: “Our position has not been that hard, really.”

Ung Bun-Ang said, however, he was confident that the Al­liance’s Assembly members would not give Hun Sen the necessary ap­proval for his continued leadership, adding that their earlier call to remove him was “to save Hun Sen the embarrassment” of failure in the legislature.

Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party, which formed the Alliance of Democrats after the July 27 general election, have been ada­mant in their refusal to form a new government with the CPP as long as Hun Sen remains premier. They also demand that the new government include all three parties.

The CPP has rejected both con­ditions.

Under the Constitution, members of the new government require a vote of confidence by the Assembly before taking of­fice. But, with 73 of the 123 As­sembly seats, the CPP is nine seats short of forming a government alone.

“We will not vote for [Hun Sen], but there is a lot of opportunity for him to convince people” to vote otherwise in the Assem­bly, Ung Bun-Ang said.

He added: “Of course we’re concerned. But if he wins a two-thirds majority, there’s nothing we can do.”

Late last week, two Funcinpec officials predicted the royalists would eventually have to make significant concessions to end the deadlock.

Their comments were quickly rejected by other members of their party.

An Asian diplomat also predicted last week that the three parties would reach an agreement.

“From the outside, they look rather entrenched. Actually, they are not entrenched in the positions at all,” the diplomat said.

The diplomat added: “They all accept there will be a solution.”

CPP spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said last week that the ruling party was ready to negotiate whenever the King re­schedules a three-party meeting. The King, however, said last week that he will not do so.


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