Deputy PM Says F’pec Won’t Split Ministries

Officially, Funcinpec is waiting until the final election results are released before the party makes any noise about the role it might want to play in the next government.

“It would be premature to speak now,” said spokesman Kong Vibol on Wednesday. “Our position is not to say anything at the moment. We are waiting for the results.”

But one steering committee member was willing to speculate Wednesday on the practicalities of creating a new government.

If Funcinpec were to decide to join the government, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Works and Transport Ing Kieth said, the party would not accept sharing ministries with another party.

“No more double ministries or ministries with secretaries of state who are from different parties than the minister. I know from experience this doesn’t work,” he said, citing several disputes between himself and Tran Eav Tek, the CPP-appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works.

The power-sharing arrangement, introduced after the elections in 1993, was inefficient and made accountability difficult, Ing Kieth said on Wednesday. The ar­rangement enabled the CPP to have an unfair influence in ministries even when their top ap­poin­tee was a secretary of state and not a minister, he claimed, be­cause so many civil servants re­­mained in place from the 1980s.

Ing Kieth said he would advocate total control of a ministry for one party, in order to make that party accountable for their work. He would not, however, speculate which ministries might be Funcinpec targets.

However, Ing Kieth said he was shocked to hear Second Prime Minister Hun Sen proposing last Thurs­day that the CPP might take five key ministries for it­self—Justice, Interior, Foreign Affairs, Defense and Finance—plus the positions of  prime minister and president of the National As­sembly.

“Unbelievable!” he exclaimed. “Even before the votes are in and counted!”

Funcinpec Secretary-General Toh Lah would not respond Wed­nesday to Hun Sen’s opening gambit in the game of government building.

“We are not talking about a co­a­lition yet,” he said on Wednes­day.

The party was still waiting for the NEC to complete any re­counts and announce the final election results. Toh Lah was adamant that a “proper” NEC investigation into voting irregularities would give more seats to Funcinpec and therefore, he said, he was not yet in a position to start speculating about the future.

“I think the difference will be drastic,” he said, citing “flagrant violations of the rules” across the country.

Ing Kieth believed recounts could give the party between five and seven more seats in the new National Assembly, and consequently more bargaining power in any post-election deals.

“Let’s begin to talk after the investigations are finished, the re-counting is done, and we know the true results,” the deputy prime minister said.




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