CPP Will Hand Future Vacancies to Royalists

CPP-held government posts vacated by death or retirement in the current mandate will be handed to Funcinpec, in an effort to prolong the parties’ relationship to the 2008 elections and beyond, government officials said Thurs­day.

The policy was offered by Prime Minister Hun Sen as a show of goodwill earlier this week, to help solve the royalist party’s nagging “unemployment” problem, said Ok Socheat, a former deputy secretary-general of Funcinpec.

Though the coalition government has stretched its Cabinet to one of the world’s largest in order to accommodate politicians and bureaucrats, many long-standing royalists remain without position.

Ok Socheat said the inevitable addition of posts currently held by the CPP will help pacify those party members, as well as accommodate defectors from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

“This is a good chance to re­duce unemployment,” said Ok Socheat, who himself has been pegged as ambassador to the Philip­pines.

Government and CPP spokes­man Khieu Kanharith confirmed the new policy and said its aim was to keep cordiality be­tween  CPP and Funcinpec. “When there are vacant positions, Funcinpec can take them,” he said.

It is unclear whether the policy is linked to ongoing talks over the sharing and appointing of provincial governor positions. Funcin­pec has not yet completed a list of its appointments, and Khieu Kanha­rith said Thursday that the governor situation was still shifting. He said that the CPP will keep control of the Phnom Penh governorship, and could take control of formerly Funcin­pec-held spots in Siem Reap and Kandal provinces.

Sam Rainsy, whose party was once promised slots in the newmandate, blasted the two parties’ powersharing agreement as a self-indulgent strategy to weaken the opposition by drawing defectors.

“Now they have about 400 secretaries of state and undersecretaries of state,” Sam Rainsy said, referring to a Cabinet more than doubled in size since the prior mandate. “To establish those positions is not really the solution to solve the unemployment problem.”

(Additional reporting by Luke Reynolds)


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