King Norodom Sihanouk on Saturday said he did not succeed in making any advancements in the formation of the new government and National Assembly during a meeting with the three main political parties Friday evening.
But, in a message posted on his Web site, he said all parties agreed to convene Thursday to discuss the Assembly, and again on Dec 6 to begin government negotiations, without his presence.
Since the July national election, the three parties have not officially met without the King. Plans for tripartite negotiations earlier this month were scrapped after Funcinpec demanded the CPP drop a defamation lawsuit against royalist party President Prince Norodom Ranariddh before talks could begin.
The lawsuit, filed Nov 4, alleges that Prince Ranariddh falsely accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of taking part in last month’s killing of a journalist from the pro-Funcinpec Ta Prohm radio station. Funcinpec has since denied the prince made such accusations.
During Friday’s meeting, which was held at the Royal Palace and televised later the same night, CPP representatives Say Chhum, the party’s secretary-general, and Sar Kheng, the co-minister of Interior, gave no indication that the CPP would withdraw the lawsuit.
“The reason [for the court complaint] is only to protect the honor, prestige, dignity and justice of Samdech Hun Sen as well as CPP,” Say Chhum said Friday.
On Sunday, Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou said his party was considering filing a counter-lawsuit against Hun Sen under the Untac code for “incitement leading to the commission of a felony.” Ahead of the journalist’s death, Hun Sen had publicly warned Ta Prohm that it should stop broadcasting programs critical of his speeches.
Kassie Neou, however, said he did not know the reasons behind Funcinpec’s proposal to launch an incitement complaint.
CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Sunday such a countersuit from Funcinpec would not impede negotiations.
During Friday’s session, King Sihanouk asked that the new Assembly scrap some of his constitutional roles, including his position as head of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, which he said consisted of “corrupt judges,” and as the chairman of the National Congress. He added that he did not wish to continue to be responsible for protecting national sovereignty, as written in the 1993 Constitution.
Officials from the three parties on Sunday said they would discuss the King’s proposals.