King Cautious About Constitutional Change

Says 3 Party Leaders Needed to Alter Way New Gov’t Is Formed Move on Gov’t Formed

King Norodom Sihanouk said Wednesday that agreement of all parties elected to the new Natio­nal Assembly should be secured in order to change the Constitu­tion to make it easier to form a new government.

“An amendment of our Con­stitution should be possible IF [King’s emphasis] the leaders of the three big parties elected by our beloved people in the July 26 elections…are ALL in agreement that there should be such an amendment,” the King said in an interview with his staff Wednes­day.

The King also said Wednesday that he and Queen Norodom Moni­neath oppose rumored at­tempts to change the Constitu­tion to allow the Queen to take the throne upon his death. A Khmer-language newspaper on Tuesday reported a movement to make such a change.

The faxed interview from the King’s cabinet came a day after news broke that the ruling CPP is working to convene members of the outgoing parliament to try to change the Constitution and break the political deadlock that intensified this past week.

A CPP spokesman said the ruling party wants to change the Constitution to allow it to form a government with an absolute-majority confirmation vote in the new National Assembly instead of the two-thirds majority now needed.

Such a change would allow the CPP to avoid forming a coalition with an increasingly recalcitrant Funcinpec.

But opposition leaders and many analysts doubt that the CPP could turn enough Fun­cin­pec and BLDP lawma­kers in the outgoing parliament to convene it and make the chan­ge before the current As­sembly’s mandate ends Sept 24. The As­sembly needs 70 percent of its 120 members present to meet under its internal regulations.

King Sihanouk’s statement carries weight, as he is one of three people allowed to initiate a chan­ge in the Constitution under Article 123. Legal experts said that the same article also allows the prime minister or the chairman of the National Assembly to initiate such a change.




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