Prospective coalition partners Funcinpec and the CPP inked an agreement Monday for a power-sharing arrangement, with the CPP assuming control of the main money-making ministries and Funcinpec taking the key social-sector portfolios.
In addition, the parties created several new ministries in a deal that political analysts said heavily favors the CPP.
The deal needs a two-thirds vote in the National Assembly to become final. Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is slated to lead the next government, said the Assembly vote will be largely symbolic.
“Based on…the preparation of the CPP’s and Funcinpec’s leaders, the government will likely be created on Nov 30 because everything is ready,” the CPP’s vice president told reporters gathered in the Council of Ministers on Monday evening. “Only some little issues about procedure remain to be solved.”
The parties toasted their agreement with champagne after a signing ceremony.
About 25 Funcinpec officials and 15 CPP officials met Monday afternoon at the Council of Ministers to finalize the agreement, which an inter-party working group began work on last week.
Ninety minutes later, party leaders signed the pact.
The agreed-upon list of party portfolios shows 12 ministries for the CPP, 11 for Funcinpec and shared stewardship of the Defense and Interior ministries.
Each party will appoint one deputy prime minister and will head up one secretariat. The three new ministries being formed are Hydroelectricity and Meteorology; Construction; and Inspection and Anti-Corruption.
Nominees to head each portfolio may be announced later in the week, officials said.
Sam Rainsy, whose self-named party looks to be the sole opposition in parliament, has tentatively supported the Funcinpec-CPP coalition, but warned Monday that its performance will be closely watched.
“We are not interested in these power-sharing games,” a party statement quoted Sam Rainsy as saying. “We give the other parties the benefit of the doubt….What we care about are the results. We will represent the people in their desire for reform in Cambodia.”
CPP officials at the Council of Ministers expressed optimism Monday that this coalition will last the full five years.
“Want or not and like or not, we have to go together to make the government work and to build the country,” Hun Sen responded when asked why he thinks this government will last the full term.
The last coalition government in July 1997 collapsed into tank battles in the Phnom Penh streets, leaving most of the Funcinpec power structure in exile or dead.
“We are optimistic,” said co-minister of Cabinet, Sok An (CPP) on Monday evening. “You should be optimistic, too.”
The CPP is slated to steward the Commerce, Agriculture, Industry and Finance ministries, or what political analysts say are the main money-making ministries.
Funcinpec will take over Health and Education, perhaps the largest social sector ministries.
An Asian diplomat on Monday evening noted that the CPP had garnered the more lucrative ministries. “I think if you look from the list, I think Funcinpec will be getting the poor ministries except for the ones they complained about,” the diplomat said, referring to the ministries of information and justice.
The opposition has accused both ministries of having CPP-bias. Giving them to Funcinpec was seen as a CPP concession during negotiations.
However, the diplomat said by snaring the ‘economic’ ministries, the CPP holds “the ministries that are supposed to be important and getting money for the country.”