No Progress in Tripartite Talks With King

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.


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