Opposition Vows to Insist on Protest Requests

While police guarded the remains of protests broken up in front of the National Assembly, Funcinpec leaders said Tuesday they would continue to push for a modified list of the demands that led to two weeks of protests in the capital.

Opposition parties will still de­mand a reconciliation of the ballots and the use of a different formula used to calculate party seats, Funcinpec steering committee members said.

Controversy erupted several days after the election when democracy groups and election watchdogs were told that they were using an incorrect formula. The formula the National Elec­tion Committee is using favors the CPP and gives them a majority in the National Assembly, political scientists said.

Opposition parties say it is un­clear when and if the formula currently in use was legally adopted. The NEC denies the any wrongdoing.

Funcinpec also alleges there has never been a sufficient ac­coun­ting of all unused ballots.

Opposition leaders would be willing to drop two other de­mands: recounts and revotes in certain parts of the country, said Mu Sochua, parliamentarian-elect for Battambang.

In a meeting Tuesday morning, Mu Sochua said she presented the modified list of demands to Prum Sokha, director-general of administration of the Interior Ministry. Mu Sochua said Prum Sokha said he only wanted to discuss the protests and not issues related to a possible coalition government.

Prum Sokha could not be reached for comment Tuesday.  CPP spokesman Khieu Kanha­rith also said he would not comment on the opposition’s revised list of demands.

But how opposition parties would be able to make a coalition government with the ruling CPP party was up in the air after police action Tuesday. The CPP needs to form a coalition with opposition parties to get enough seats in the National Assembly to form the next government.

Funcinpec officials Tuesday doubted the sincerity of the CPP in negotiations after Tuesday’s about-face. A senior Interior Min­istry official had said Tuesday morning the protests would not be broken up.

“It’s very difficult to trust each other now and difficult to work together in a coalition government,” said Ahmad Yahya, a Funcinpec parliamentarian. “To oppress the demonstration makes the situation worse and brings us to a deeper deadlock.”

A Sam Rainsy party spokes­man Tuesday said his party would keep a low profile while the party’s leader and his wife, Tioulong Saumura, were under UN protection. Sam Rainsy was at the office of the UN secretary-general’s personal representative to Cambodia, while Tioulong Saumura was staying in Siem Reap.

The party would leave decisions regarding the protests and their demands to Funcinpec, said Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Rich Garella said. However, Sam Rainsy did tell Australian TV after a morning meeting with Funcin­pec Presi­dent Prince Norodom Ranariddh he feared for his life.

Khieu Kanharith reiterated Tuesday that Sam Rainsy is simply being subpoenaed to answer questions in municipal court and that Sam Rainsy’s life is not in danger.

“I can say that the main concern for the government and the CPP now is [Sam Rainsy’s] life. If he is dead, we will bear the blame and we wish that would never happen,” Khieu Kanharith said.

(Additional reporting by Jeff Smith)


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