Parties Unready to Resume Talks, CPP Says

The three main political parties are too “far away from each other” to resume negotiations on the formation of a new government and National Assembly, CPP spokes­man Khieu Kanha­rith said Thurs­day, despite Fun­cinpec claims earlier this week that talks should begin as soon as possible.

“If they come with more concrete proposals [we can meet]. But we’re too busy for just talking,” Khieu Kanharith said. “The problem is the horse is talking about the elephant…. We are far away from each other.”

On Tuesday, Funcinpec Presi­dent Prince Norodom Ranariddh said the Alliance of Democrats would push for fresh talks with the CPP as soon as possible.

The dispute between the three parties has delayed the creation of a new government and formation of the National Assembly for more than five months. Official negotiations between them broke off in mid-December after their sixth tripartite meeting concluded with no resolution.

Prince Ranariddh, who is in France, told Voice of America ra­dio that Funcinpec Secretary-Gen­eral Prince Norodom Siri­vudh and op­position leader Sam Rainsy would urge a tripartite meeting when they return to Cambodia next week. Prince Sirivudh and Sam Rainsy have been in France, consulting with Prince Ranariddh.

Thursday, however, Fun­cin­pec spokesman Kassie Neou said the Alliance would wait for the CPP to initiate further negotiations.

“The CPP won the election, they are obligated to form the gov­ernment. So the CPP sets the date,” he said.

But, contrary to Khieu Kanha­rith’s estimation, Kassie Neou said, “so far there has been im­provement” in relations between the three parties after Funcinpec Deputy Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay met with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Dec 25.

Kassie Neou added that Prince Ranariddh could return to Phnom Penh within the next two or three weeks.

Prince Ranariddh had earlier stated he would not return until Hun Sen agreed to establish the new government policies ahead of allocating government and legislative positions.

Kassie Neou also dismissed a letter signed by 53 Funcinpec mem­bers earlier this week, stating their dissatisfaction with the royalists’ alliance with the Sam Rainsy Party.

“We respect the right to freedom of expression of all our members,” Kassie Neou said. But “the leadership of the two parties remains strongly together.”

CPP officials, meanwhile, said the current government would continue its regular functions, apparently anticipating the im­passe to be prolonged further.

On Wednesday, in a speech mark­ing the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge, CPP President Chea Sim said the dispute was “just a temporary complicated problem that absolutely cannot hamper our march forward.” He reaffirmed the CPP’s support for Hun Sen to remain as prime minister.

He added: “Any attempt to weaken or deny the lawful role of the current Royal Government during the period when there is no new government in place constitutes an act that fully violates the Constitution, law and people’s aspirations as a whole…. Author­ities at all levels, and all categories of armed forces, will continue to effectively implement their res­pective roles and responsibilities.”

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