Hun Sen: Conditions Ripe for Political Talks

Calling November a lucky month, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said he was hopeful the government deadlock would soon be resolved as the three main political parties prepare to enter negotiations next week.

“November is a good month for Cambodians…so I have hope,” Hun Sen told reporters at Chak­tomuk Theater. He noted that In­de­pendence Day and the Water Fest­i­val are in November and a resolution of the 1998 post-election deadlock occurred in November.

The premier’s comments came a day after King Norodom Siha­nouk called a multiparty meeting at the Royal Palace next Wednes­day aimed at ending the three-month standoff, which has de­layed the formation of a new government and National Assembly.

Although the CPP won the July 27 general election with 73 of the 123 Assembly seats, it is nine seats short of forming a government alone. Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party have refused to join a coalition with the CPP unless it forms a three-party government without Hun Sen as premier. The CPP has rejected such conditions.

Hun Sen on Wednesday de­clined to comment on the terms the ruling party would bring to the negotiating table next week. But he said he was optimistic about a formula suggested by the King earlier this month.

“I am optimistic that all issues will be solved through our King’s brilliant idea, including the contribution of parties which have seats in the National Assembly,” he said.

The King had suggested that if Hun Sen remains prime minister, the positions of Assembly and Sen­ate presidents could be divided between CPP President Chea Sim and Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh. He also suggested that opposition lead­er Sam Rainsy could become As­sembly vice president or deputy prime minister, while Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party could be offered positions in the government.

On Wednesday, officials from Fun­cinpec and the Sam Rainsy Par­ty who had earlier rejected such a formula said they too were hopeful about the upcoming talks.

“We are generally very optimis­tic,” said Sam Rainsy Party spokes­man Ung Bun-Ang. “The meeting is giving us a chance to…start negotiations and present different ideas and scenarios.”

Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou echoed the statement.

“Our president, Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh, is al­so optimistic that, under the high pa­tronage of his majesty the King, the meeting will be productive,” he said. Kassie Neou said Funcin­pec will seek at the meeting an agree­ment “on principle” that the roy­­alist party be allowed to lead the Assembly, while the CPP heads the government.

(Addi­tional reporting by Wency Leung)



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