Funcinpec Boycotters Return to Assembly Today

After sitting out the National Assembly for four days, boycotting Funcinpec lawmakers will return to parliament today, Fun­cinpec lawmakers Ok Soch­eat said on Wednesday. Other boycotters confirmed this.

At least 15 Funcinpec lawmakers sat out Wednesday’s session as they had the previous three meetings, along with all 15 Sam Rainsy Party members.

But they decided that was enough, Funcinpec Assembly member Nan Sy said. “We have boycotted for five days; that’s good enough to wake up the CPP and show them we are an equal partner” in the coalition government.

The boycott, which shut down the Assembly for lack of a quorum and stalled important pending legislation, demonstrated Fun­cinpec’s power, he said. “The CPP cannot say they rule the country alone, because they can’t do it without Funcinpec,” he said.

The parliamentarians will re­turn despite not having struck a deal with the ruling CPP, Ok Socheat said.

Funcinpec leaders—including party Secretary General Prince Nor­odom Sirivudh, Deputy Sec­retary General Nhiek Bun Chhay and Assembly Secretary General Kol Pheng—hope to meet today or Friday with CPP officials in­cluding co-Minister of Interior Sar Kheng and party Secretary Gen­eral Say Chhum.

The boycott was spurred by last Thursday’s vote against RCAF Deputy Commander-in-Chief Khan Savoeun, Funcinpec’s nom­inee for co-minister of In­terior. Fun­cinpec members said CPP members conspired to block the vote by abstaining en masse.

But when Funcinpec and CPP higher-ups meet, Khan Savoeun won’t be on the top of the agenda, Ok Socheat said. Instead, Fun­cinpec planned to use the defeat of the former resistance commander and the ensuing boycott as leverage, using these incidents to pressure the CPP for concessions on the election law.

The Assembly is to turn its attention soon to amending the 1998 election law, particularly by changing the makeup of the National Election Committee.

In the commune council elections earlier this year, the NEC was accused, even by some of its members, of being partisan and restricting voters’ access to information. Amendments to the law were recently drafted by the Min­istry of Interior.

“The election law is most im­portant thing we have to discuss, or everything everyone has done for past several years is worth nothing,” Ok Socheat said.

Party President Prince Nor­odom Ranariddh, who has tried to downplay the boycott, met with Khan Savoeun Wednesday. The gen­eral said he didn’t want to go through another Assembly vote as he feared damage to his reputation if it failed.

Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Tioulong Saumura said her party would return to the As­sembly if Funcinpec did.

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