Ranariddh Still Wants 3-Party Gov’t

Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh repeated his vow to push for the creation of a new tripartite government on Sunday upon his return from Europe.

Greeted by dozens of top level Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party officials at Phnom Penh Inter­national Airport, Prince Rana­riddh denied his party was split over its alliance with the opposition party.

“Funcinpec is not divided and still stays unified,” he told re­porters, flanked by his party’s secretary-general, Prince Noro­dom Sirivudh, and his younger half-brother Prince Norodom Chakra­pong, who recently said he would rejoin Funcinpec.

Prince Ranariddh dismissed recent comments made by his party members, including Funcin­pec Deputy Secretary-General Serey Kosal, who on Friday said some Funcinpec officials suspected that opposition leader Sam Rainsy was trying to “destroy” the royalist party.

Prince Ranariddh said he had met with Serey Kosal and senior Funcinpec officials Nhiek Bun Chhay and Por Bun Sroeu, whose names appeared on a draft letter, urging their party president to consider joining the CPP in a two-party government.

They “did not mean they want a two-party government. They said they always follow me,” Prince Ranariddh said.

He also said the Alliance of Democrats will continue to call for a tripartite coalition government, as the three main parties had tentatively agreed in a meeting chaired by King Norodom Sihanouk on Nov 5.

“We will stick to the Nov 5 agreement. If any side wants

a two-party government, they should wait for the King to return and we will enter the palace again” and renegotiate, he said.

Prince Ranariddh left Phnom Penh on Feb 12 to meet with European politicians in a tour that included Spain and Brussels, Belgium. Before his departure, he said he would meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen upon his return, to resolve the monthslong political deadlock.

On Saturday, Prince Ranariddh said he was waiting for the prime minister’s response.

“I have not heard of Samdech Hun Sen’s reply that he would be ready to meet me. So don’t ask me when I will meet Samdech Hun Sen,” he said.

CPP spokesman Khieu Kanha­rith, however, said on Sunday that Hun Sen was waiting for Prince Ranariddh to contact him to set a date and time for their meeting.

On Friday, King Norodom Siha­nouk wrote a message posted on his Web site, saying there are only three “conceivable ‘scenarios’” in the political negotiations.

In the first such scenario, he wrote, Prince Ranariddh would accept Hun Sen’s formula to create a two-party government of Funcinpec and CPP.

Prince “Ranariddh and his Funcinpec would then lose all credibility and honorability in the eyes of numerous compatriots and foreigners,” he said. “And Funcinpec, already very divided and very weakened, would no longer have a future.”

In the second scenario, the parties could create a three-party government, which “would not fail to see the ‘clashes between [Hun Sen] the Strongman No 1 and the aspiring Strongman [Sam Rain­sy],” the King wrote. In such a scenario, “there would be, one day or another, an implosion in this tripartite” government, he said.

If the negotiations between Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh fail, however, the King said, the Alliance of Democrats would “sink like the Titanic” and “excludes the possibility for this ‘Alliance’ to get rid of our great leader.”

Meanwhile, Eng Chhay Eang, Sam Rainsy Party’s secretary-general said Sunday Sam Rainsy will return to Cambodia from Taiwan this afternoon. Sam Rainsy was attending a three-day meeting of liberal Asian opposition parties.

(Additional reporting by Wency Leung)

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