Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party on Sunday proposed a coalition summit “on neutral ground” in Tokyo, headed by King Norodom Sihanouk, in hopes of breaking the ongoing deadlock in forming a new government.
“We cannot join a meeting in Cambodia as we will not negotiate under threat, including the threat of further so-called ‘attacks’ on [Second Prime Minister] Hun Sen, which could bring consequences of the most serious magnitude,” the parties said in a joint statement Sunday.
The ruling CPP, however, wants any summit to be held inside the country.
“It is a Khmer issue and it should be held in Cambodia,” CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith said. But, he added, “If the King wishes to convene any summit outside the country, we will follow his decision.”
King Sihanouk himself said Sunday that he is waiting for formal requests from all three parties to call a summit.
“Wait for them to write me first, and I will agree to preside over the meeting,” the King wrote to CPP President Chea Sim on Sunday in response to Chea Sim’s request for the King to call a summit in Phnom Penh. The King returned to the capital last week for the first time in nine months.
During Friday’s negotiations, all three parties agreed to submit formal proposals to the King.
More than two months of posturing, sporadic negotiation and periodic violence since the July 26 election have yielded no new government. The first round of multi-party talks broke down on Friday.
In their Sunday statement, the opposition parties said their first choice for a site would be Tokyo, but they would accept Bangkok, Paris or Beijing, where the King is set to get medical treatment.
“But definitely we cannot hold any meeting in Phnom Penh or Cambodia,” Sam Rainsy said in a telephone interview from Paris. “I am concerned that while we are negotiating, Hun Sen will set up a grenade or rocket attack and then accuse opposition leaders.”
The Sept 24 swearing-in of the new National Assembly in Siem Reap was marred by a rocket attack that narrowly missed a car at the end of the CPP motorcade and killed a 15-year-old bystander. Hun Sen implied that the opposition had tried to assassinate him and warned that opposition leaders might be arrested.
Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Sam Rainsy left the country the next day and have not returned.
On Sunday, Khieu Kanharith dismissed the idea that opposition parliamentarians had anything to fear.
“Nobody makes any threats against them…nobody has been killed or arrested,” he said.
He also said it would be difficult to justify the expenses of a summit abroad.
“The economy in Cambodia right now is not so good…It would be better to spend the money in helping the people inside Cambodia than on plane tickets and hotel accommodations.”