Prince Won’t Return Until CPP Bargain

Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said he will not return to Cambodia until Prime Minister Hun Sen agrees with his plan to establish the policies of the new government before discussing government and legislative positions.

Prince Ranariddh, who left Cambodia in early November and remains in France, said he is awaiting an answer from Hun Sen and the CPP.

“I can’t tell when I will be back, but if I have a good answer, I will be back,” Prince Ranariddh said in an interview broadcast on Radio Free Asia on Saturday. He added: “I think currently the country and Funcinpec party don’t need my presence yet.”

Last month, Funcinpec officials said Prince Ranariddh’s departure from Cambodia was part of their strategy to avoid a repeat of the post-election deadlocks of 1993 and 1998, which concluded with Funcinpec agreeing to form consecutive two-party governments with the CPP.

Prince Ranariddh told RFA that his party’s past cooperation with the CPP led to the royalists’ decline in popularity.

After the July 27 general election, Funcinpec ended up with 26 seats in the National Assembly, down from the 43 seats it won in the 1998 election. Meanwhile, the CPP and the Sam Rainsy Party gained nine seats each, winning 73 seats and 24 seats respectively. For more than five months, however, the parties have been squabbling over how to form the new government and Assembly.

“It is not a good way” for Funcinpec to work with the CPP again, Prince Ranariddh said.

On Nov 5, the three parties made a tentative agreement to form a new tripartite government. But Funcinpec and the Sam Rain­sy Party’s Alliance of Demo­crats have insisted they will not negotiate the allocation of government positions until the CPP accepts its policy proposals, which include establishing a ministry of immigration and nullifying border agreements made with Vietnam in the early 1980s.

So far, Prince Ranariddh said: “I myself have never seen anything from Hun Sen that shows there is hope to solve the political deadlock.”

CPP’s Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, however, blamed the Alliance for the prolonged dispute.

“The CPP thinks that it must solve the head of the government and the National Assembly first, but the other two parties insist on establishing the national policy first. They want to prolong the problem,” he told RFA on Saturday. “The CPP has enough policies already.”

But Sar Kheng said that if the three parties could find an alternate solution to their dispute, the CPP would be willing to drop its request for a simultaneous Assembly vote on government and legislative positions—a request that the Alliance rejected.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Noro­dom Sirivudh are meeting Prince Ranariddh in France, party officials said.

Sam Rainsy Party Senator Ou Bunlong said he believed the Alliance will be ready to call a meeting with the CPP when they return. He said Sam Rainsy is scheduled to be back in Phnom Penh next week.

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