Official Says F’pec Forced Into Coalition

Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party’s Alliance of Democrats was unfairly pressured last week into a decision to form a three-party government with the CPP, a Fun­cin­pec official said Monday.

Leaders of the Alliance accepted the initial agreement, which was drafted in a meeting Wednesday at the Royal Palace, because they could not object to it in the presence of the King, the official said.

“This is not the agreement we went in to talk about,” the official said, referring to a copy of the deal that was handwritten by King Norodom Sihanouk during the five-hour meeting.

“Once the King wrote it, nobody can refuse. It is very impolite to say ‘no’ in front of the King,” he said. “It was not a fair play.”

Sam Rainsy Party Senator Ou Bunlong said Monday that, although his party agreed to several points at the meeting Wednes­day, they were unable to set out the details of the party’s conditions during the talks.

“We cannot discuss details in front of the King…. He said it was a big success, but not for us,” Ou Bunlong said. He added that his party’s measure of success was contingent upon achieving its list of conditions.

Under the preliminary agreement, the three parties said they would form a tripartite government and accept the CPP’s right to nominate whomever it wished as premier.

The CPP’s choice remains Prime Minister Hun Sen, whom the Alliance has opposed.

The deal appeared to resolve a political deadlock that has delayed the formation of the new government and National Assembly for more than three months.

But following Wednesday’s meeting, Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec officials said they could not join a tripartite government unless they approved of the policies of the new government along with a host of other conditions.

They also said they could not guarantee Hun Sen would win the two-thirds of the Assembly vote required to secure the position of premier.

The CPP, which won 73 of the 123 Assembly seats in the July 27 national election, needs to gain nine more votes from the other two parties to reach the two-thirds majority.

The initial agreement stated that the CPP would accept Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Rana­riddh—and not any other member of the royalist party—as Assem­bly president if Hun Sen was accepted as prime minister.

The prince, however, repeated earlier this month that he did not want to be Assembly president for another term.

His stance has not changed, the Funcinpec official said, adding that the party would nominate another undisclosed person for the position.

The official said the Alli­ance had gone into the meeting seeking a deal “in principle” that the Alliance would control the Assembly if the CPP took control of the government.

They had not wanted to negotiate over individual government and legislative positions, he said.

“That’s why rumors say it’s a forced marriage,” he said. He added that he predicted a prolonged deadlock.

The Alliance issued a statement Monday stating that Prince Rana­riddh’s candidacy for Assem­bly president and a power-sharing formula, which would give 60 percent of government positions to the CPP and 20 percent each to Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party, had been suggested by Hun Sen during the meeting.

But, the statement said, both Prince Ranariddh and Sam Rainsy refused to discuss the proposal.

It added: “The Alliance will not discuss the allocation of positions in the forthcoming government as long as no agreement has been reached on a number of reforms intended to make the government more transparent, democratic and able to fulfill the people’s needs and defend the country’s interests.”

Hun Sen adviser Om Yentieng on Monday declined to comment.

Last week, CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith said all parties should treat Wednesday’s agreement seriously, adding that it would be an “insult to the King” if it were violated.

In a message posted on his Web site Saturday, King Sihanouk warned that anyone who violated the letter and the spirit of the ac­cord would have to assume re­sponsibility for the consequences.

Meanwhile, in a statement on Monday, Sam Rainsy denied that he wanted to be the new Minister of Finance and that he was pushing for his wife, parliamentarian Tioulong Saumura, to be Minister of Foreign Affairs, as reported in a local newspaper last week.

(Additional reporting by Lor Chandara)


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