King Declines To Hold Meeting of Top Political Leaders

King Norodom Sihanouk has declined to hold a meeting with the leaders of Cambodia’s three main political parties, stating that talks would be explosive given the “dramatic political situation” that has engulfed the country.

King Sihanouk delayed his scheduled departure to China on Friday following ap­peals to remain in Cambodia after the slaying of senior royalist party official Om Radsady on Tuesday, and widespread fears of further political violence.

Opposition party members had called on the King to hold a tri-partite meeting of leaders in order to secure guarantees of continued stability, despite the strained political atmosphere after the killing of Om Radsady.

‘There isn’t any Cambodian politician who wants more than me to find a resolution to the problems that divide us and national reconciliation,” the King said in a statement released late Thursday.

“But, ‘in the actual state of things’ a meeting under my supervision between [Prime Minister] Hun Sen [with his friend Norodom Ranariddh] and Sam Rainsy would inevitably become a ‘bomb’ the explosion of which literally would ‘kill’ the meeting in question,” the King wrote.

The negative consequences of such a meeting would render “even more dramatic, the already dramatic political situation in our unhappy and very unfortunate country,” the King added.

At this time, King Sihanouk said he could only offer his presence in the country to comfort the population.

Opposition Parliamentarian Son Chhay expressed regret the King canceled a scheduled meeting on Friday with opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

However, Funcinpec Party President Prince Norodom Ran­ariddh said on Friday that the pre­sence of the King would suffice, and the tri-partite meeting was unnecessary.

The prince also blasted the Sam Rainsy Party for engineering political problems and then seeking the protection of King Sihan­ouk from their inevitable fallout.

“Those who create the problem have to be responsible for themselves. So don’t bother the King,” Prince Ranariddh said outside the National Assembly.

“I don’t join the meeting be­cause Funcinpec and I have never created problems. We are just victims. We only ever suffer,” the prince said.

Though having already branded the killing of his top adviser, Om Radsady, a political assassination, the prince struck a conciliatory note with Hun Sen’s government, saying both parties should form a joint commission to investigate the killing.

Later the prince joined hundreds of royalist officials, supporters, and foreign diplomats at the park opposite the National Assembly for the cremation of Om Radsady.

Head shaven in the traditional Buddhist mark of mourning, Prince Norodom Sirivudh led over 100 party officials and relatives of the deceased on a somber march that brought the coffin to the funeral pyre.

But the Funcinpec party’s suffering seemed to continue on Friday with news that a royalist party activist was gunned down in Kam­pot province on Wednesday night.

Kim Khunly, 32, was shot dead at 9:30 pm at his home by unidentified assailants, police and provincial officials said.

Kampot Governor Puth Chan­darith said the victim was a royalist party worker in his village, however provincial police said they also found a membership card of the ruling CPP among his belongings.

Nothing was taken from the victim’s house, police said.

“If we can arrest the suspect we can reduce the tension following accusations of a political link,“ Puth Chandarith said.

Interior Ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak said on Friday that a reward is offered of  50 million riel (approximately $12,500) for information leading to the capture of Om Radsady’s killers.

Commenting on claims by Prince Ranariddh that the killing was a political assassination, Khieu Sopheak said “those who say it is politically motivated, we would be very happy to receive evidence.”

(Additional Reporting Phann Ana)



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