Possibly indicating some softening in the stance of Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party’s Alliance of Democrats, Funcinpec leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh called Thursday for talks to begin with the CPP on the formation of a new National Assembly.
Prince Ranariddh said talks on the Assembly should go ahead and the contentious issue of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s continued premiership could be postponed while all three parties hammer out an agreement on the running of parliament.
The prince also said that the CPP should organize a new government Cabinet, but that Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party should be given power to control the Assembly which would “help create checks-and-balances in government.”
Though Hun Sen’s ruling CPP won the July 27 general election, the party is nine seats short of forming its own government. Both Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party are refusing to join a CPP-led coalition until Hun Sen is removed as premier and all three parties are included in the next government. The CPP is refusing both demands.
According to Prince Ranariddh, Funcinpec agreed, after winning the 1993 general election, to the CPP retaining control over the chairmanship of the Assembly. Following the 1998 election, the CPP agreed to Funcinpec control over the Assembly chair, said the prince, who has held the Assembly president’s post since the 1998 poll.
“I think this should be a principle to solve [the current stalemate],” the prince told reporters outside the Assembly following a meeting with Canadian Senator Daniel Hays.
The prince said such a deal did not mean he would automatically remain as Assembly president.
“I’m not saying it must be Norodom Ranariddh,” he added.
While the prince held open the possibility that talks between the three entrenched parties would finally get underway on the formation of a new government, he said that the Alliance of Democrats was still firm on rejecting the premiership of Hun Sen.
However, as the Hun Sen issue did not need to be addressed immediately, talks on forming a government could begin first, he said.
“I have said, as the Alliance of Democrats has also announced, once we sit down we won’t talk about premiership issue,” the prince said.
“The CPP has the right to arrange the Royal Government but they do not have the right to make the whole national issue stuck in the interest of one individual,” he added.
Meanwhile, CPP Minister of Finance Keat Chhon urged foreign and local investors on Thursday to not be jittered by the current political standoff and said that recalcitrant political parties should take responsibility for the loss of investment in Cambodia.
“They won’t dare to import the goods and some companies want to suspend and wait and see the political developments,” Keat Chhon told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport, shortly before the arrival of Hun Sen from an Asean summit in Bali.
“Though it is my idea, [investors] don’t need to worry because the election result has been shown brightly, only some people turn it to dark,” he said.
Keat Chhon also said the work of government was continuing despite the stalled formation of a new government. The international community would also still provide annual donor assistance to the government, Keat Chhon said.
“The law states that the government is finished when there is the new government to replace [the old government]. We [the Finance Ministry] still work. If we don’t, there is no salary,” he added.
Hun Sen did not speak to reporters on his arrival in Phnom Penh. Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said that China, South Korea, Japan and Asean have promised to assist in the construction of a trans-regional train network which will one day link Cambodia with China.