Funcinpec, CPP Pledge to Strengthen Ties With

Prime Minister Hun Sen of the ruling CPP and Funcinpec Pres­ident Prince Norodom Ranariddh released dozens of pigeons as a symbol of peace and cooperation during the royalist party’s annual congress on Wednesday.

Hun Sen watched the morning music and dancing ceremonies from a front row seat next to Prince Ranariddh, while Minister of Cabinet Sok An, also a CPP member, sat next to Funcinpec Secretary General Tol Lah.

The presence of Hun Sen and Sok An was itself symbolic, meant to demonstrate the strong cooperation between CPP and Funcinpec, Cambodia’s coalition gov­ernment partners—one of the main themes of the royalists’ 20th congress.

“I think that we [CPP and Fun­cinpec] will have immortal ties because the situation obliges us to do this,” Hun Sen said as he left the congress.

Prince Ranariddh also emphasized the relationship between CPP and Funcinpec, going as far as blaming the opposition Sam Rainsy Party for the royalists’ loss in the 1998 elections.

Funcinpec had originally ac­cused the CPP of voting irregularities and with the Sam Rainsy Party protested the election re­sults. A year earlier, the first coalition government had been mar­red by factional fighting that broke out in July 1997 between royalist soldiers and troops loyal to the CPP.

But Funcinpec members on Wednesday approved 11 resolutions, including a measure to continue to strengthen the cooperation with other parties, “especially the CPP, which the Funcinpec party considers as its partner in se­­curing peace, political and so­cial stability toward national development.”

Another resolution supports the guiding principles and recommendations made by Prince Ran­ariddh in his opening speech Tuesday, including the appointment of a new secretary general and other party leaders.

Prince Ranariddh said Edu­cation Minister Tol Lah and the party deputy secretary generals also have much work to do in the government. The new leadership should be able to work full time for Funcinpec, he said.

“They are very busy in serving the nation, and they have a lot of responsibilities in the big ministries,” he said. “I think Fun­cinpec should be like the CPP. Say Chhum, secretary-general for the CPP, does not do anything besides think about the party.”

Prince Ranariddh said the steer­ing committee would ap­point the new leadership structure. High-ranking Funcinpec members say Prince Norodom Sirivudh, who lived in exile for almost three years before returning to Cambodia in January 1999, will be the new secretary-general.

Prince Sirivudh had been convicted of plotting to assassinate Hun Sen and was forced to leave the country until he was am­nestied by his half brother, King Norodom Sihanouk. Prince Sir­­ivudh sat in the row behind and a few seats down from Hun Sen on Wednesday.

Wednesday was more like a festival than a political meeting, with traditional Khmer music and dancing, a balloon release and the release of the pigeons.

Sam Rainsy Party Cabinet Chief Phi Thach, ambassadors to Cambodia and representatives of the communist parties from China, Indonesia, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam and other countries also attended.


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