Ranariddh Says Coalition Strife Is a ‘Danger’

Funcinpec President Prince No­rodom Ranariddh on Wednesday called Prime Minister Hun Sen “narrow-minded” for rejecting a Funcinpec proposal to divide ad­min­istrative posts at the nation’s schools and universities between the royalist party and the CPP.

Prince Ranariddh said he has asked royalist officials to cease sending him such requests to be forwarded to the prime minister, because the party now knows they will not be accepted.

One day after a speech by Hun Sen that was highly critical of the royalists, the prince also asserted that any damage to the coalition between the two parties could threaten national unity and social stability.

“I and the Funcinpec party know that Samdech Prime Min­ister is narrow-minded within the framework that he designated for the Funcinpec party,” the prince told reporters inside the National As­sembly.

Disagreement between the two par­ties “is a danger for the national unity and national and social stability. The written agreement be­tween Funcinpec and the CPP is the foundation,” he added.

The prince said that he sometimes receives requests from Funcinpec officials that he then has no choice but to forward to Hun Sen.

As well as revealing that he had rejected a proposal that royalist officials be given positions as school principals and deputy principals, Hun Sen on Tuesday also accused Funcinpec of appointing unfit people to government jobs and draining the CPP of its lifeblood.

Prince Ranariddh said he was not angered by the speech. “Look at my face [for] whether I am angry or not,” he said.

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kan­ha­rith said the relationship between Fun­cinpec and the government is holding firm despite recent tensions.

“Samdech Hun Sen told the Fun­cin­pec Party not to be afraid,” he said, though he also warned that the party could destroy itself by appointing inappropriate officials to government posts.

“When the party recruits the wrong people it just commits suicide,” he said.

Koul Panha, director of the Com­mittee for Free and Fair Elections, said the two parties appear to be unhappy with each other.

He added that the conflict may stem from the proposal made by Sam Rainsy to Prince Ranariddh and Hun Sen on Monday to de­crease the number of National As­sem­bly posts needed to form a government.

Sam Rainsy has urged the government to consider changing the requisite number of votes from two-thirds of parliamentarians to half of the Assembly members plus one.

Some observers had said that such a move could push Funcinpec out of the government.

But in a Tuesday statement, Fun­cin­pec said it welcomed Sam Rain­sy’s request to change the quota.

Prince Ranariddh met with Sam Rainsy on Wednesday at the As­sembly.

Following the meeting, Sam Rainsy said the opposition is seeking positions for opposition lawmakers inside all nine of the National Assembly’s permanent commissions, which until now they have been prevented from joining.

He added that the opposition may join a coalition government following the 2008 election.

“We have kept it open for any possibilities that would bring national compromise and reconciliation,” Sam Rainsy said.

Prince Ranariddh said it would be difficult to remove Funcinpec lawmakers from the Assembly commissions to make way for their counterparts in the opposition. But he added that the meeting with Sam Rainsy went smoothly.

“There wasn’t any contradiction in ideas,” he said.



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