Parties Conclude First Phase of Gov’t Talks

Though some of the most contentious points remain unresolved, Funcinpec and the CPP on Tuesday wrapped up the first phase of talks to establish a new coalition government.

Of the 73 points the parties initially suggested for a new government platform, they have agreed “in principle” to 68, during their 14 meetings over some eight weeks, officials said.

The outstanding issues are some of the stickiest—including Funcinpec’s demands to require government officials to attend the National Assembly for questioning; holding a National Congress, where the public can meet with state officials; the creation of an Im­mi­gration Ministry; resolving border disputes; eliminating tolls on National Route 4, and administrative and judicial reforms.

Prak Sokhonn, CPP negotiations spokesman, told reporters Tuesday that Prime Minister Hun Sen and Funcinpec Presi­dent Prince Norodom Ranariddh would meet to resolve the re­maining points at an unspecified date.

Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou declined to comment on the outcome.

“I’m not supposed to comment on whether I’m happy or not,” he said.

Kassie Neou said he did not know when Prince Ranariddh, and Hun Sen would meet. The prince is in the US and is expected to return to Phnom Penh on Saturday, he said.

The parties are now expected to begin a second round of talks on government and parliament protocol, aimed at determining how the government will implement the policy platform, Kassie Neou said.

A third and final phase of talks will deal with distribution of government and parliament positions.

Party officials declined to speculate on how much longer the talks will continue.

Already, the political deadlock has stalled the formation of a new government and Assembly for nearly 10 months, while the Assembly has not held a working session for one year.

(Additional re­porting by Wency Leung)


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