Sam Rainsy: 3-Party Gov’t Not Yet Final

A day after the three main political parties agreed to form a tripartite government, former opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Thurs­day said his party may still pull out of such a deal.

“I hope the three parties will agree to form a three-party government. But I cannot have 100 percent assurance that it will materialize,” Sam Rainsy said. “I cannot tell you at this point in time what kind of government we will have and whether the Sam Rainsy Party will join that government.”

He said his party would have to agree on the political platform of the new government before it could enter a coalition, adding that he believed such a power-sharing formula had a “50-50” chance of actually being realized.

“We will play the whole game if we think the whole game is worth playing,” he said.

At a meeting convened by King Norodom Sihanouk Wednesday, the three parties agreed to create a tripartite government and to ac­cept Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nom­ination for another term.

The agreement appeared to resolve more than three months of political dispute. Following the July 27 general election, Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party, which created the Alliance of Democrats, refused to enter a coalition with the CPP as long as Hun Sen re­mained at the helm.

Hun Sen called the deal “a great success” on Thursday.

“We are anxiously waiting for the effective beginning and high responsibility of the National Assembly and new government in the near future,” he said in Kandal province during a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of RCAF.

But, Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou on Thursday said, “The agreement is not a final agreement.”

Hun Sen’s continued premiership must be approved through a two-thirds majority vote by the Assembly members. And with just 73 of the 123 seats in the Assem­bly, the CPP needs to secure the votes of nine parliamentarians from the other two parties to pass Hun Sen’s reappointment.

Kassie Neou said that, although the decision will ultimately rest on individual parliamentarians, Fun­cin­pec was still opposed to Hun Sen as prime minister.

“The party’s position never changed. We have to look for a better performer. We are not happy with the performance of the last 10 years,” he said.

He added that if the Sam Rain­sy Party decided to stay out of the government as the opposition, Funcinpec would follow suit.

CPP spokesman Khieu Kanha­rith said Wednesday’s agreement should be taken seriously, especially since it was negotiated in the presence of the King.

“It’s not a joke,” he said. “You must keep promises as gentlemen.”

He added that if the two parties did not join the tripartite coalition, “that would be a real insult to the King.”

As for Hun Sen’s ability to se­cure a vote of confirmation from the Assembly, Khieu Kanharith said he was certain it could be done. “We can get nine votes already,” he said.

Under Wednesday’s agreement, the CPP would control

60 percent of the 25 ministries and two state secretariats, while Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party share the remaining 40 percent of government positions, Khieu Kanharith said.

CPP would thus keep all 14 ministries that it currently controls, plus the Ministry of Information, which is now headed by Funcin­pec, he said.

If Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party try to create co-minister positions in their respective ministries, the CPP would ask for more ministries, he added.

“The main loser is Funcinpec,” Khieu Kanharith said, adding that if they had agreed to another two-party government, Funcinpec could have secured between 10 and 13 ministries.

Wednesday’s agreement included the creation of a new third vice president position in the Assem­bly, which would be occupied by a member of the Sam Rainsy Party, and four deputy premier positions.

As outlined in a joint communique from the three parties, the agreement stated that Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Rana­riddh would be the Assembly president if Hun Sen were accepted as prime minister. It did not propose a position for Sam Rainsy.

Sam Rainsy on Thurs­day said he had not decided on what role he might take, though he had been offered a deputy prime minister position.

His decision, he said, would be based on the outcome of two task forces created during Wednes­day’s meeting.

The task forces, each comprised of members from all three parties, were set up to discuss the leadership and internal regulations of the Assembly and the policies of the new government.

“We have to make sure [that there will be]…political platforms that will give hope to the country—and not only political platforms in the form of empty prom­ises on paper,” Sam Rainsy said.

“If it is just accepting a position without having the guarantee that I can do anything really useful for the country, I will not” take a government position, he said.

Meanwhile, the US State De­part­ment issued a statement Wednesday from Washington calling the agreement “an important step to ending the political stalemate in Cambodia.”

“We note, however, that the new government has not yet been formally named and that the three parties are still working out the implementation of the agreement,” it said.

(Additional reporting by Thet Sambath)


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