King May Leave Before Government Forms

King Norodom Sihanouk said he did not believe the political deadlock could be resolved before he leaves for Beijing next week, claiming Prime Minister Hun Sen would not accept all the demands put forth by Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party’s Alliance of Democrats.

“I doubt strongly that before my departure for [Beijing] we can put an end to the sinister ‘deadlock’…for the simple reason that Samdech Hun Sen will never accept the multiple ‘conditions’ or ‘demands’ imposed on him by the ‘famous’ ‘Alliance of Democrats,’” King Sihanouk said in a statement on his Web site.

King Sihanouk has stated he plans to leave Phnom Penh on Jan 19 or Jan 20 to seek medical treatment in the Chinese capital. Earlier this month, he said doctors have informed him he has a liver disease and problems with a blood vessel in his neck, which is linked to the health of his heart and brain.

In a separate statement dated Monday, the King said he and Queen Norodom Monineath would return to Cambodia before the Khmer New Year celebrations that start April 13.

Alliance officials have said they wished to resolve their more than five-month long dispute with the CPP ahead of the King’s departure. The deadlock has blocked the formation of a new government and National Assembly.

The Alliance is demanding the CPP adopt a host of political policies for the new government before they begin discussions on government and legislative positions.

Their demands include nullifying border agreements made between Cambodia and Vietnam in the early 1980s, limiting the term of the prime minister and creating a new Ministry of Im­migration.

In his statement Sunday, King Sihanouk said he has advised the Alliance to serve the country in a “concrete manner.”

“The ‘Alliance…’ speaks all the time of the ‘black misery’ of the Khmer people. However, these people receive aid and assistance only from Samdech and [Ma­dame] Hun Sen and of the CPP,” he said. “In French, it is said that one cannot live solely on love and fresh water. At home, our people cannot survive only on the statements of ‘good’ principles, re­forms.”

He added: “It would be very astonishing if, in the general legislative elections of 2008, these good people do not give, again, a comfortable victory to the CPP and to its ‘strong man.’”

On Monday, opposition leader Sam Rainsy returned to Cambodia from France, after meeting with Funcinpec President Prince No­rodom Ranariddh and several top leaders of the Alliance last week.

Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh also returned from France on Sunday.

Prince Ranariddh, who re­mains in France, said last week that tripartite negotiations would resume as soon as possible after Sam Rainsy and Prince Sirivudh’s arrival.

CPP spokesman Khieu Kanha­rith, however, said Thursday the three parties were far from resolving the dispute.

Alliance officials, including Prince Sirivudh and Sam Rainsy, met with US Senate staff member Paul Grove, who works for US Senator Mitch McConnell, on Monday evening, Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou said.

Grove did not speak to re­porters after the meeting.

Also on Monday, Grove met with Sok Chim, 24, the wife of slain pro-Funcinpec radio journalist, Chuor Chetharith.

During their meeting, Sok Chim said she appealed to Grove for help in seeking asylum for herself and her family in the US. She also asked him to urge Cam­bodian authorities to find her husband’s killer.

“I want to find justice for my husband,” Sok Chim said by telephone. “I am afraid for my family’s security.”

Chuor Chetharith was shot and killed outside the pro-Funcinpec Ta Prohm radio station on Oct 18.

No suspects have been identified.

(Additional reporting by Saing Soenthrith and Thet Sam­bath)

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