Denying the country was facing a political deadlock, CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Tuesday he is confident a new two-party coalition government will be formed with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the helm.
“There is no political deadlock,” Khieu Kanharith told reporters at the Sunway Hotel. He said through a translator: “We want to work with only one other political party…. So one will work with CPP and one stay as opposition party. That’s it.”
He declined to identify which party would join a coalition with the CPP, but said the CPP had held unofficial meetings with members of both Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party.
Khieu Kanharith added that calls for Hun Sen’s removal by opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh were unrealistic.
He said the CPP would carry out a recommendation from King Norodom Sihanouk, which would keep Hun Sen as prime minister, CPP President Chea Sim as Senate president, and promote CPP Honorary President Heng Samrin to the head of the National Assembly.
“Following the King’s schedule is correct. The pushing can’t proceed [to oust Hun Sen],” he said.
The King issued a statement last week, expressing his preference for the allocation of government positions from the “humble opinion of a Khmer citizen.”
Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy officials, however, have repeated their vow to stay out of a Hun Sen-led government, while Sam Rainsy announced plans on Sunday to drum up foreign support with Prince Ranariddh for their two-party Alliance of Democrats.
Khieu Kanharith on Tuesday criticized the leaders’ plans to travel to the US and Europe together, saying their departure would absolve them of responsibility if extremists within their parties instigated protests against the formal results of the July 27 general election.
He added that one of the reasons Prince Ranariddh was planning to leave the country was to allow Funcinpec to transfer his power over to the party’s secretary-general.
“They want Prince Norodom Ranariddh to go out and let Prince Norodom Sirivudh to manage the party,” he said.
Funcinpec officials, however, denied they wanted to change the leadership of their party.
“It is not true. I think that the CPP wants to break our internal unity and confuse the people,” said Funcinpec Deputy Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay.
Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers said Tuesday that Sam Rainsy and his wife, opposition parliamentarian Tioulong Saumura, left for Bangkok Monday where Sam Rainsy will participate in a conference on political reform.
The US-based National Democratic Institute and the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats are hosting the meeting, which was scheduled to begin this afternoon and run through Friday, Dominic Cardy of NDI said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Council of Ministers issued a statement to the media on Monday, confirming it will meet on Friday.
According to the statement, the ministers are scheduled to discuss a draft subdecree, dealing with the doctors code of ethics, and another draft on Khmer national policy.
A Council of Ministers meeting was canceled last week, just days after Hun Sen warned all ministers to attend it. Officials said the meeting was postponed to avoid a conflict with the National Election Committee’s release of initial poll results. Ahead of the cancellation, several Funcinpec members had urged their ministers to boycott it.
Nhiek Bun Chhay on Tuesday said he did not know whether Funcinpec ministers would attend this Friday’s meeting. But, he said, they were free to do so.
“We don’t prohibit them from joining the Council of Ministers meeting. This is up to them whether they want to go or not,” he said.
A spokesman for the Council of Ministers, who declined to be named, said it was important for all ministers to attend the meeting.
“If those ministers don’t participate in the meeting, we can’t pass the drafts and we will waste our time,” he said.
Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Son Chhay said Funcinpec members’ attendance at the meeting would not weaken the two-party alliance.
(Additional reporting by Porter Barron)