Officials: Prince to Give Up Assembly Power

Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh will not seek to retain his position as Na­tional Assembly president and will not seek any position in a newly formed government, Fun­cinpec officials said Tuesday.

Prince Ranariddh will remain as head of the party and will attempt to retain a seat as a parliamentarian in the Assembly, officials said. The prince will transfer power over top Funcinpec officials in government to party Secretary-General Prince Noro­dom Sirivudh in any coalition government with the CPP, the officials said.

“This is the prince’s commitment,” Kassie Neou, Funcinpec spokesman, said Tuesday. “It is his right to select his position.”

Serey Kosal, Funcinpec security adviser and the party’s deputy secretary general, confirmed that the prince will not seek to serve as Assembly president but de­clined to elaborate.

Prince Ranariddh could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The prince announced his decision during Monday’s Funcinpec steering committee meeting, said one Funcinpec official who de­clined to be identified. The official added that the prince was not pressured by the committee and chose to step down on his own accord.

No Funcinpec official contacted on Tuesday would comment on whether the prince’s decision to serve only as party president and Assembly parliamentarian would affect any royalist alliance with the CPP or the Sam Rainsy Party.

On Monday, Funcinpec officials publicly proposed a reshuffling of the top government positions that would include a neutral prime minister and three deputy prime ministers from each major political party. Prince Sirivudh would also become Funcinpec deputy prime minister or the highest Fun­cinpec official in any coalition government that would involve the quota system for allocation of top positions, the Fun­cinpec official who refused to be identified said.

CPP spokesman Khieu Kan­harith expressed skepticism on Tuesday that the prince said he would not seek to serve as Assembly president.

“The prince did not declare this, only people around him,” Khieu Kanharith said. “The ones who are not involved in any negotiations talk a lot, but the ones in­volved in the talks do not say anything.”

He would not elaborate.

The alliance between Fun­cinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party did not appear to be affected by the prince’s reported decision. On Tuesday, officials from both parties said they are continuing to work together in all capacities.

“A new government would not be formed without the approval and support from the alliance,” op­position leader Sam Rainsy said Tuesday at his headquarters.

Sam Rainsy said he would support the Funcinpec proposition for a neutral prime minister and three deputy premiers, even though he proposed a different government reorganization last week that would place CPP Presi­dent Chea Sim as prime minister, himself as deputy prime minister and Prime Minister Hun Sen as president of the Assembly. Prince Ranariddh would serve as the president of the Senate under the opposition party’s plan.

“More ideas are better,” Sam Rainsy said.

At least one opposition party lawmaker criticized the alliance as a “contract not of commitment but of convenience.”

“I highly doubt how long this relationship will last—maybe only two weeks,” the official said Tuesday. “The nature of the Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec is just too different.”

Funcinpec is more interested with self-preservation than good governance, the official added.

The alliance between the two parties went forward Tuesday, with Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party agreeing to release a joint directive.

The directive orders commune councilors from both parties to reinforce their alliance, Eng Chhay Eang, secretary-general for the opposition party, said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Council of Ministers put off its scheduled Friday meeting for one week to allow the National Election Com­mittee to declare official election results, Council of Ministers officials said Tuesday.

The delay also stalls any serious action from Funcinpec officials, some of whom said publicly that they would not attend the meeting in protest of both the initial election results and the current prime minister, Hun Sen.

Funcinpec also delayed holding a ceremony this week be­tween Prince Ranariddh and all members, activists and officials of the royalists in Phnom Penh, Se­rey Kosal said.

(Additional reporting by Wency Leung and Lor Chandara)



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