Ranariddh, King Will Meet to Discuss Senate

Prince Norodom Ranariddh said Tuesday that he will meet with his father, King Norodom Sihanouk, today to discuss the proposed Senate.

“I have to speak with the King about the Senate because he gave his royal opinion on the subject,” the prince told reporters at Chamkarmon Palace.

“It is very important for the nation.”

Prince Ranariddh, who re­turned to Cambodia on Monday after a month abroad, said Tues­day that he had not then telephoned CPP leaders but that the Assembly would most likely meet next week to take up the Senate issue.

The formation of the Senate has been delayed by questions about the usefulness of having a Senate, the alleged undemocratic nature of its establishment, and the absence of two of the nation’s top political leaders, Prime Min­ister Hun Sen and Prince Ran­a­riddh.

Hun Sen has recently been to China twice and to Malaysia. The prince spent a month in France, taking time to meet members of the French parliament, according to a National Assembly press release.

A constitutional draft amendment needs to be passed by the Assembly to create the Senate.

The King has ex­pressed his concern about the formation of an institution that might become a drain on the national budget, and voiced his opinion that senators be democratically elected from a cross-section of professional, religious, and ethnic groups.

The current Senate draft proposal on the Assembly floor calls for 61 senators. It mandates that senators will be nominated by three parties with Assembly seats. Thirty are to be nominated by the CPP, 20 by Func­inpec, seven by the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, and four by the King, according to two Asian diplomats.

The proposal to create a senate was part of a breakthrough at the Nov 12-13 CPP-Funcinpec summit which led to the current coalition government.

CPP president Chea Sim is tapped to head the Senate.

Prince Ranariddh has said that top resistance general Nhiek Bun Chhay will be one of Funcinpec’s members in the Senate.



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