Retired King Tapped To Lead Council

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.


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