Deadlocked Parties Look For Solutions

Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party are ready to resume talks on a future government, while the CPP has floated the idea of having co-presidents of the National Assembly.

Representatives of both opposition parties said Wednesday that the deadlock over a proposed summit with King Norodom Siha­nouk had led them to reconsider reopening the talks at working-group level. The three parties have not been able to agree on a location for the proposed meeting with the King.

Meanwhile, Second Prime Minister Hun Sen was reported as having suggested a dual presidency in the National Assembly as a way out of the impasse that has stalled talks on forming a new government.

“Hun Sen has said maybe we will have a co-presidency of the National Assembly but the CPP has yet to meet to discuss the idea,” party spokesman Khieu Kanharith told Agence France-Presse.

The proposal was put to CPP President Chea Sim by a Funcin­pec representative at meetings last week, a CPP official told the news agency. But Funcinpec immediately denied any such

proposal had been considered, telling AFP the position was still that the party should have the chairmanship for itself.

Talks between the three parties broke down two weeks ago when negotiators faced a stalemate over the formula used to allocate seats in the National Assembly. Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party still insist the National Election Commission used the wrong formula to calculate the seats given to each party, one which gave the CPP a further five seats and a simple majority in the house.

The working groups had only held three meetings. Negotiators did however agree to ask the King to hold a summit attended by party leaders to try to close a deal. Squabbling over the venue for this summit led to a further impasse, with the opposition insisting on the talks being held outside of Cambodia, to guarantee their security.

However, they apparently are ready to talk to their rivals without the presence of the King.

“We are thinking of asking the other parties in terms of resuming the work of the working groups,” Funcinpec Secretary-General Tol Lah said Wednes­day. “There are no new issues to be addressed but Funcin­pec…

would like to continue to en­gage in meetings.”

He added, “If we cannot discuss the subjects we disagree on we should go to other subjects we can talk about. We will be working on the principles of government. You could not have co­operation without principles the three parties agree on.”

Ou Bunlong, a member of the Sam Rainsy Party negotiating team in Phnom Penh, said Wed­nesday that issues of governance need to be discussed.

“The summit meeting will be very tough,” Ou Bunlong said. “The groups can talk about something else, the technical issues.”

Oum Sarith, Cabinet director for CPP President Chea Sim, said Wednesday that he had no comment on the stalled negotiations. However, he said Chea Sim would release a statement today.

In an interview with CNBC television aired Tuesday evening Prince Norodom Ranariddh indicated Funcinpec was ready to resume negotiations through the working groups.

“[Funcinpec] is ready to discuss about the formation of a co­alition government,” said a party statement paraphrasing the interview. “A summit could take place under the high patronage of His Majesty the King, once all the political parties have reached a satisfactory agreement.”

The prince reiterated in the broadcast that the summit venue should be outside Cambodia “in a neutral place, free of political threats and intimidation,” the statement said.

The formation of a new government is vital for continued foreign aid assistance and for attracting investment into the country. Many foreign donors have de­layed new programs or suspended assistance altogether pending a new government.

“At the moment donors don’t know who to deal with.’’ Kao Kim Hourn of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace told the Associated Press.

Meanwhile Sam Rainsy has left Bangkok for Germany, where he will address a conference on hu­man rights Friday, a Sam Rainsy Party statement said. In his speech the president of the self-named party will advocate a strong human rights agenda for the international community, according to the statement.


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