Ranariddh, PM To Negotiate New Government

Prince Norodom Ranariddh is expected to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen this week to negotiate the formation of a new government, after the Funcinpec president returns from Singapore today, officials from the Alliance of Democrats said Sunday.

Prince Ranariddh left Phnom Penh on Saturday for a routine medical checkup in Singapore, Funcinpec’s director of Cabinet Kung Hun Thearith said Sunday. The prince is tentatively scheduled to return today, he said.

Alliance officials said the prince plans to meet Hun Sen this week, though no specific date has yet been set.

A meeting between the two leaders is widely anticipated as it could bring an end to the nearly eight-month-long political deadlock.

One senior Funcinpec official, who spoke on condition of anony­mity, said Sunday that the royalist party will offer Hun Sen a proposal to create a new government of “two and a half” parties—that is, Funcinpec would agree to form a coalition government with the CPP, but share some of its allocated government positions with its Alliance partner, the Sam Rainsy Party.

Such a scenario would serve as a compromise to the CPP, which insists on a two-party government, and satisfy Funcinpec’s desire to keep its alliance with the opposition party, the official said.

“We insist on two and a half because we don’t want to separate with the Sam Rainsy Party,” the official said. “But we don’t know the thinking of Sam Rainsy.”

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Ung Bun-Ang, however, rejected such a proposal on Sunday.

“We have [discussed the idea with Funcinpec] but we’re not interested in a two-and-a-half party government,” Ung Bun-Ang said, calling it “one of the ways to break up the Alliance.”

He added that “a small group of Funcinpec has been dancing around,” trying to strike a divide in the Alliance.

Funcinpec officials, however, have maintained their party re­mains loyal to Prince Rana­riddh’s leadership. CPP spokes­man Khieu Kanha­rith and Hun Sen adviser Om Yentieng could not be reached for comment Sunday.

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