New Alliance Winds Down US Meetings

Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh and opposition leader Sam Rainsy were scheduled to wrap up their meetings in Washington on Wednesday, after holding discussions with several members of the US Congress in a bid to gather support for their Alliance of Democrats, party officials said.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Ung Bun-Ang said Sam Rainsy and Prince Sirivudh met Tuesday with Steve Chabot and Jim Kolbe, members of the US House of Representatives, as well as US Senators Mitch McConnell and John McCain.

He said their discussions fo­cused on the Alliance’s role in opposition to the CPP following the July 27 general election.

Despite some initial disappointment over the absence of Funcin­pec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ung Bun-Ang said, the meetings went “better than expected.” Prince Sirivudh took Prince Ranariddh’s place in Washington after the party president said he would stay in Cambodia to help resolve the political standoff.

“The reaction has all been very positive,” Ung Bun-Ang said, but he declined to give details about any pledges of support made by the US lawmakers.

Ung Bun-Ang said the two leaders were scheduled to meet with Representatives James Leach and Dana Rohrabacher on Wednes­day, as well as George Folsom, the president of the International Republican Institute.

He said Sam Rainsy was scheduled to leave the US on Wednes­day afternoon to rally support from the European Union. He is expected to visit France, Ger­ma­ny and Brussels, Belgium, returning to Phnom Penh on Sept 18, Ung Bun-Ang said.

Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou said Prince Sirivudh would also head to France today and would return to Cambodia on the same day as Sam Rainsy.

In an interview broadcast on Voice of America radio Tuesday night, Prince Sirivudh and Sam Rainsy repeated that they would not enter negotiations with the CPP separately, despite the CPP’s refusal to recognize the Alliance.

Funcinpec “won’t go alone to work with the CPP like in the previous term,” Prince Sirivudh said. “If we go, we go together. If we leave, we leave together.”

Sam Rainsy warned that Cam­bodia’s economy would be jeopardized if a political stalemate forced the current government to remain as a temporary body.

“No investor will bring large amounts of money to invest when we have only a caretaker government,” he said.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, about 30 Funcinpec officials, including Prince Ranariddh, and newly elected parliamentarians left Phnom Penh for a brief retreat in Thailand, Funcinpec Deputy Secretary-General Nan Sy said.

Nan Sy told reporters the group would visit Pattaya to observe the development of that country’s coastal areas.

“The coastal regions in Cam­bodia are definitely forgotten, so we want to learn from Thailand, so we may think ahead to develop our own coastal regions,” Nan Sy said. “If they are developed, our coastal regions can generate a huge amount of revenue for the country.”

Nan Sy added that Prince Ran­ariddh would host a Fun­cinpec meeting during the retreat to discuss the party’s future plans.

He said the meeting would not affect the party’s vow to remain in the Alliance. Ung Bun-Ang said members of the Sam Rainsy Party are not taking part in the Thailand trip.

The Funcinpec officials were scheduled to return to Phnom Penh on Saturday, Nan Sy said.

(Additional reporting by Nhem Chea Bunly)

 

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