Retired King Norodom Sihanouk has been tapped to become head of a new national border council, officials said, though the powers and responsibilities of the council remain unclear.
National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said that his father, Norodom Sihanouk, expressed his desire to chair the new Supreme National Council on Cambodia’s borders, and that the prime minister has welcomed the retired King’s interest.
“I got a call from Prime Minister Hun Sen…to say he supports His Majesty to be chairman of the Council,” Prince Ranariddh said, according to a broadcast on Voice of Democracy radio on Sunday.
The seven-member council will include the chairman, who represents the Royal Palace, and one representative from each of the three main political parties.
It will also include one member each from the government, the National Assembly and the Senate, according to a letter signed by Hun Sen on April 20 outlining the council’s formation.
But the letter made no mention of what the council will actually do, or whether it has any power to end border encroachment by neighboring countries.
Var Kim Hong, chairman of the government’s existing border committee, said he was not sure what the role of the new council will be. But, he said, his own committee will continue work as usual, negotiating with neighboring countries on border conflicts.
Opposition Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said his party has appointed its president Sam Rainsy to the council when he returns from self-imposed exile.
Eng Chhay Eang said he, too, did not know what the new council will do, and questioned its efficacy. “If it can only propose ideas to the government’s border committee, it is useless,” he said.
CPP Senator Chea Cheth said on Sunday that he will be the Senate representative to the border council.
Prince Ranariddh, president of Funcinpec, said last week that his party has appointed lawmaker Princess Norodom Vacheara.
Heng Samrin, vice-president of the National Assembly and honorary president of the CPP, said there has been no discussion yet as to who the Assembly and the CPP will appoint.