CPP, Funcinpec Have High Hopes for 2004 Year

If all goes according to their plans, the CPP and Funcinpec would see a new coalition government adopt an anti-corruption law, set up a functioning Throne Council, and create a new Su­preme National Council on border issues—all by the end of 2004.

They would also see civil servants’ monthly salaries raised to $100 by 2007, the remaining peoples’ militias would be demobilized completely by the end of 2004, and a number of draft laws, including the penal and civil laws, would be up for debate at the National Assembly before the end of 2005.

But heading into the second week of government negotiations, the two parties so far have made little headway, hitting several roadblocks in their proposals.

On Friday, the two parties stalled on the issue of raising civil servants’ salaries, and managed to discuss only 15 of the 73 points  on the negotiating table, officials said.

Though Funcinpec officials asked for a gradual raise in civil servants’ wages to $100 per month from the current average salaries of $25 to $30 per month, their CPP counterparts said the government’s coffers could not realistically meet such a demand.

But, Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou said on Monday, “The matter of fact is, [salaries] can be increased if tax revenue is properly collected.”

CPP spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said he could not answer questions Monday as he was busy.

Talks last week also stumbled over Funcinpec’s proposals to create a national human rights commission and to implement an opposition party law. Both of which were rejected by the CPP, royalist officials said.

By week’s end, officials had toned down their initial remarks that the meetings were “a great success.”

If last week was any indication, negotiations from here will only get tougher, as the two parties have yet to discuss the matter of power sharing and protocol.

According to a draft of the CPP’s proposals obtained last week, the party wants to see the creation of five deputy prime minister positions, two of which would go to Funcinpec. The royalists, however, have indicated they only want four deputy premier spots, which would be shared equally.

The CPP draft also pencils 14 ministries under CPP control, while Funcinpec would be left with 11. According to a copy of Funcinpec’s draft proposal, however, the royalists are seeking to hold on to 13 ministries, including a new Ministry of Immigration.

Also, neither of the drafts in­cluded proposals on how Funcin­pec would share its power with its Alliance of Democrats partner, the Sam Rainsy Party.

After the 1998 elections, wrangling over government positions between CPP and Funcinpec continued for months before a new government was approved by the Assembly in late November.

This time, officials said, negotiations over powersharing will only begin after the current round of talks on policy platforms are done.

Talks between the two parties are scheduled to continue this morning.


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