Parties Wait on Each Other to Start Gov’t Talks

Despite their calls for a quick start to negotiations, leaders of the three main political parties on Friday deflected responsibility for initiating talks on the formation of the new National Assembly.

Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Thurs­day urged the three parties to begin discussing how to run the Assembly, postponing the issue of forming a new government and temporarily setting aside Funcin­pec and the Sam Rainsy Party’s demands for Prime Minister Hun Sen to step down.

But Friday, negotiations ap­peared no closer to starting as the CPP and the Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec’s Alliance of Democrats pointed to one other to initiate discussions.

“They are the ones to lock the door. They have the key to unlock it,” said CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith, adding that the CPP was awaiting an official letter from the other parties to open talks.

“We are always ready for negotiations,” he said. He added it was critical for the parties to meet. Though the new parliamentarians were sworn in to the Assembly on Oct 4, they have yet to determine the Assembly president and vice-presidents.

“The first thing to do is to set up the composition of the National Assembly,” he said. “The three parties have to sit down.”

Meanwhile, Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Ung Bun-Ang on Friday said it was up to the CPP to bring the three parties to the negotiation table since the CPP emerged with the largest number of Assembly seats in the July 27 general election.

“From the common sense point of view, the party with the most seats should have the initiative,” Ung Bun-Ang said. He added that the CPP’s anticipation of an official letter from Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party was “petty.”

“Let’s meet. That’s all we need to do,” he said.

Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou added that his party, too, was looking for the CPP’s signal to start negotiations.

On Friday morning, Prince Ranariddh and opposition leader Sam Rainsy met with King Norodom Sihanouk at the Royal Palace.

Sam Rainsy told reporters after the meeting that they had not discussed political matters, saying he and the prince were at the Palace only to attend a Buddhist ceremony.

(Additional reporting by Lor Chandara)



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