King Chastises Alliance Over Backpedaling

King Norodom Sihanouk on Sun­day admonished Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party for teetering on their stance on forming a three-party government with the CPP.

“Right now, the three political parties must decide and should be responsible” for the future of the country, King Sihanouk said, addressing a crowd of thousands gathered in front of the Royal Palace in celebration of the 50th anniversary of  independence.

“I am exhausted from the formation of the new National Assem­bly and the government,” the King said. He added that due to the stress of dealing with the political situation, his appetite had waned and he was taking medication to help him sleep.

The three parties signed a preliminary agreement Wednesday to create a new tripartite government and to accept Hun Sen’s nomination as prime minister after a meeting with the King.

The agreement had appeared to signal the end of a deadlock that has lasted more than three months and has delayed the formation of the new government and National Assembly. But Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party have since stated they may still choose not to join the CPP in the government.

During his speech, King Siha-nouk appeared alongside Queen Norodom Monineath and Prince Norodom Sihamoni. The royal family was flanked by CPP Presi­dent Chea Sim, Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

King Sihanouk’s son Prince Norodom Ranariddh, president of Funcinpec, was not present. In his place was Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh.

Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou declined to comment on Prince Ranariddh’s absence, only to say that he was taking care of “a personal problem.” He also declined to comment on the King’s statements.

Following the July 27 national polls, Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party formed the Alliance of Democrats to push for Hun Sen’s removal from head of the government.

Wednesday’s agreement, which called for compromises from both the Alliance and the CPP, was hailed a success by both the King and Hun Sen.

But on Thursday, the Alliance issued a statement saying that reaching the conditions necessary for them to join the CPP in a government would be a “long” and “tedious” negotiation process.

They also said they could not guarantee Hun Sen would receive the two-thirds confidence vote in the Assembly required for his continued premiership.

With 73 of the 123 Assembly seats, the CPP needs nine additional votes from the other two parties to secure a two-thirds majority.

In a letter dated Sunday, King Sihanouk said that due to the Alliance’s backpedaling, he expected the new government would not be set up for several months.

In his letter, the King pointed to a contradiction between Funcinpec’s current stance and Prince Ranariddh’s approval of a joint communique, which was drawn up by the three parties and handwritten by the King, outlining their deal.

“Certain Funcinpecists have said that there was no ‘accord’ on the issue of the summit meeting of Nov 5, 2003, at the Royal Palace, with respect to the ‘communique of [Norodom] Sihanouk,’ ‘the King has produced, there, a text that does not unify us,’” King Sihanouk wrote.

“In this regard, I recount that, in front of everyone, at the conference table of the royal pavilion…Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh said in a high voice that my ‘communique’ manuscript was in accordance with all that was said and the decisions that the leaders of the three large parties had taken.”

King Sihanouk urged members of the Assembly to convene “without delay” under the guidance of CPP parliamentarian Chea Soth, the eldest of the 123 newly elected lawmakers.

In a statement published on his Web site Saturday, King Sihanouk said the two parties are “absolutely free to restart their ‘political and pacifist anti-Hun Sen struggle.’”

But, he said, it was the opposition leader who wanted the government to be composed of all three parties, instead of a two-parties as Hun Sen had wanted.

He added that the Alliance had agreed that the CPP could nominate whomever they wished as prime minister, “which means that Samdech Hen Sen officially designated for this high position by the CPP is accepted by Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party.”

“The Khmer personalities who violate the letter and the spirit of the accord of Nov 5, 2003, will assume all the responsibilities in the face of the sovereign Khmer people,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Wency Leung)


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