CPP Rejects Demands as Talks Drag on

The CPP flatly rejected many of Funcinpec’s demands to form a new coalition government, and both parties came away from talks Wednesday saying an agreement to end the 11-month-long deadlock was far out of reach.

“We are far from each other. It’s a deadlock,” said royalist spokesman Kassie Neou.

Funcinpec claims the CPP has made no concessions to its future coalition partner, striking down requests for control of key ministries and, on Wednesday, limiting the inclusion of the Sam Rainsy Party in the next mandate.

Locked together in the Alliance of Democrats, royalist and opposition party leaders said the CPP had rejected the inclusion of Sam Rainsy Party members in National Assembly leadership positions.

“This conforms to the CPP strategy, which intends to break the Alliance of Democrats,” Sam Rain­sy said.

CPP spokesman Khieu Kanha­rith denied that charge and defend­ed the party’s stance, saying it was only sticking to the “two-and-a-half” party agreement forged with Funcinpec in March.

That agreement allows for other political parties to join the government, but “they must come in under Funcinpec’s umbrella,” Khieu Kanharith said.

“We don’t mention the Sam Rainsy Party. We give all the power to Funcinpec,” he said.

The two sides appeared close to a new agreement early this month after Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prince Norodom Rana­riddh met at the prince’s residence and later championed cooperation on key policy points.

The two sides then entered a new round of powersharing talks, which, to date, have been fruitless.

The royalists are asking for a 50-50 split of government spots, including full or partial control of some of the most lucrative and influential ministries, such as Finance, Interior, Foreign Affairs and Defense.

CPP officials insist on a 60-40 split and want to retain control of the top ministries while abolishing co-minister spots in Defense and Interior. The CPP has maintained throughout the negotiations that the Alliance is bargaining from a loser’s position.

The two sides’ working parties won’t meet again until Tuesday, Khieu Kanharith said.

Facing yet another impasse and the fast approaching the one-year anniversary of the July 27 elections, leaders in the Alliance of Democrats are pushing for a resolution to be brokered by King Norodom Sihanouk.

The King invited the CPP and Funcinpec for a meeting last month in North Korea, but, believing that a resolution was imminent, the parties declined.

An exasperated Funcinpec is now reviving the idea of a three-party meeting in Pyongyang.

“We have made all the concessions to see the new government established,” Kassie Neou said. “If the CPP keeps up this stance, the last way out is to go and see the King and ask him to help. Funcinpec is ready to do that.”

His Alliance partner also pushed for the King’s renewed involvement.

“The only way to resolve this stalemate is to invite the King back to the country, or we all go to Pyongyang to ask the King for help,” Sam Rainsy said.

(Addition­al reporting by Luke Reynolds)

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