Parties Prepare Themselves For Post-Election Deadlock

Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party renewed their vow to boycott the new National Assembly as Second Prime Minister Hun Sen warned Thursday of a “crisis of government” unless a coalition is formed with his own party.

As the two sides entrenched themselves for what could be a lengthy standoff, Sam Rainsy suggested that a prolonged crisis might be solved by the CPP withdrawing Hun Sen as its candidate for prime minister.

“I foresee a deadlock, and this deadlock can be broken only when the CPP can present another candidate other than Hun Sen,” the former finance minister said Thursday. “This is premature, but…I want to throw the ball in their camp.”

The two opposition parties on Thursday demanded that an older formula that favors parties with less votes be used to calculate the Assembly seats, claiming the National Election Com­mittee illegally changed the formula.

“We will not take part in any session of the National Assembly that includes alleged members who owe their seats to an illegal formula at the expense of legally elected members,” Funcinpec’s Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Sam Rainsy said in a statement.

A first draft of the NEC election regulations had a simpler formula that did not favor the leading party so heavily. However, the NEC replaced the formula in the final draft of the regulations.

Many parties and observer groups failed to notice the change­—they say the NEC failed to point it out—and cried foul when realizing that the new formula gives the CPP 64 seats, a ma­jority in parliament, instead of 59 seats under the old formula.

The CPP, which gained the most votes in the NEC’s preliminary results, needs Funcinpec as a coalition partner to muster the two-thirds majority vote required to form a government.

But Prince Ranariddh said Thursday that Funcinpec still does not accept the CPP as the election winner. He refused to discuss coalition possibilities.

“We wait for the recounting of ballots and the checking of irregularities,” Prince Ranariddh said outside Funcinpec headquarters.

Hun Sen, meanwhile, appealed for all parties to cooperate.

“If they boycott the Assembly, then the whole system will reach a deadlock and the situation will be bad. It will lead to a crisis of parliament and a crisis of government,” he said in an interview with Australian radio.

Hun Sen reiterated that if Funcinpec refuses to join a coalition, the current government headed by First Prime Minister Ung Huot and himself as second prime minister would continue until new elections could be organized. “But that is also a bad situation. We will try to avoid this situation by peaceful, legal means,” he said.

Most analysts expect Funcin­pec to contest the results first and then agree to a coalition in return for concessions. If Fun­cin­pec refuses, a deadlock could en­sue.

The Constitution does not ad­dress what happens if no party can form a government. Many say King Norodom Sihanouk would have to mediate a solution in case of a prolonged stalemate.

Sam Rainsy suggested that one way to compromise would be for the CPP to offer a more palatable candidate as a “senior partner” in what he still insisted would be an opposition-majority parliament.

“This is premature, because we are not talking about a coalition go­vernment yet,” he said. “Nei­ther Prince Ranariddh nor I have talked about this together…but this is my opinion.”

Prak Sokhonn, a senior aide to Hun Sen, scoffed at suggestions the second premier could be set aside by his own party.

“Samdech Hun Sen was the choice of the CPP. The choice has been made already,” he said. “As Sam Rainsy is not a CPP member, is not CPP president or leader, I think Sam Rainsy is not in a position to speak on behalf of that CPP which has already made a choice for the prime minister.”





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