The CPP will either form a coalition with Funcinpec or move to change the Constitution to allow the party to form a government alone, Second Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday, a day before he was scheduled to meet King Norodom Sihanouk in Siem Reap.
If the two options fail, the present government will continue to run the country, Hun Sen warned in an interview on TV5.
The CPP appears headed to win a plurality of votes in Sunday’s poll, but is far short of the two-thirds majority needed by law in the 122-seat National Assembly to form a government. Hun Sen confirmed a coalition was necessary, unless the Constitution was altered to favor a 50 percent majority.
“There are only two choices,” the second prime minister told Thai-owned TV5, operated by the Ministry of Defense. “Funcinpec joins with us to form a coalition government…or if Funcinpec disagrees, then the Constitution must be amended so that one government can be formed with more than 50 percent.”
An aide confirmed Hun Sen will meet King Sihanouk in Siem Reap today. Analysts have said the King may be the only one able to resolve the political stalemate if opposition figures Sam Rainsy and Prince Norodom Ranariddh continue their threat to boycott the election results.
In the televised interview, Hun Sen ruled out a three-way coalition. He said he would rather work with Funcinpec than cooperate with the Sam Rainsy Party.
“Funcinpec has already had some of its ministers and secretary of states working for the government,” he said in the broadcast. “As far as I know [Sam Rainsy] was trained to be in opposition.
“In the eyes of some countries, if there are no opposition parties…then democracy is meaningless,” he said. “So in Cambodia, if we have three parties in one government, they will charge that we are a dictator. I am not saying this as a joke. I am following Western democracy.”
Asked what would happen if Funcinpec refused a coalition with the CPP, Hun Sen said the situation would reach a “deadlock,” as the election had already been deemed “correct” by national and international observers. He would then seek to amend the Constitution—an unlikely option, according to political observers.
Article 132 of the Constitution states changes can only be made with the support of two-thirds of the National Assembly.
“It is unrealistic because Hun Sen needs the support of Funcinpec to do this,” said Peter Schier, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s permanent representative to Cambodia. “Perhaps [Funcinpec] would agree and why not? A 50 percent majority is the case in most countries.”
Schier pointed out it was the CPP who originally insisted on a two-thirds majority to approve the government after the 1993 election, to prevent opponents Funcinpec and the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party from forming a government with a 50 percent majority.
If the impasse continues, Hun Sen said he will not dissolve the present government.
“Then the old government led by Ung Huot and I will proceed as normal,” he told TV5. “The assembly will comprise CPP, Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy, but the government is led by Hun Sen and Ung Huot.”
One Asian diplomat hinted the international community may not be hostile to such a maneuver.
“Hun Sen has made it clear to [Prince Ranariddh and Rainsy] he will go on without them if they continue to resist,” the diplomat said. “He now has the mandate. He will say that he has offered them the chance to participate and they have refused.”
Ung Huot confirmed Wednesday he had held discussions with the second premier.
“The government will continue without a new Assembly until they agree to form a government,” Ung Huot said. “Cambodia cannot continue without a government, no country can continue like this.”
The Asian diplomat added: “We could see a national government, one including all three of the primary political players, formed with the support of King Sihanouk.”
(Additional reporting by Lor Chandara and Chris Decherd)