Sam Rainsy Offers Plan On Recounts

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy outlined his party’s “ultimate concession” in a letter to King Noro­dom Sihanouk on Tuesday, bringing its members one step closer to swearing in at the National Assem­bly’s inaugural session.

In the letter, Sam Rainsy said he would postpone his original call for a ballot recount in Kom­pong Thom and Svay Rieng provinces, as long as the two contested As­sem­bly seats are suspended in the meantime. The National Election Committee declared those seats won by CPP candidates following the July 27 general election.

Sam Rainsy added that his party would attend the initial Assembly meeting only if the demands of its Alliance of Democrats partner were met.

Funcinpec officials have de­manded all 120 elected lawmakers be present at the opening ceremony, and that it be presided over by the King at the Royal Palace.

The decision to give up the recount demand was made “in the spirit of compromise,” Sam Rainsy wrote. He added: “I hope that this ultimate concession of the Sam Rainsy Party will be received positively by the CPP.”

King Sihanouk’s reply was not immediately available. After a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen last week, the King said he would not convene the As­sem­bly despite pressure from RCAF, the national police and CPP supporters. He named Sen­ate Pres­i­dent Chea Sim, who is also the CPP president, to stand in his place.

The King issued a statement Tuesday saying he has not had any contact with Hun Sen since their meeting on Sept 16. But he said the Royal Palace’s protocol director had informed him that Kong Som Ol, the minister of the Royal Palace, had obtained information directly from Hun Sen, saying there was no threat to the King from RCAF, national police or CPP supporters.

“After receiving this information, I would like to officially announce that this threat issue is annulled,” the King wrote.

In response to Sam Rainsy’s demands, Hun Sen said Tuesday that his party did not have the power to suspend the disputed Assembly seats.

“We cannot do that,” he told reporters outside the Council of Ministers. “The price that they offer is too expensive and not acceptable to the CPP.”

Hun Sen ruled out the possibility of holding negotiations with the Alli­ance of Democrats ahead of the As­sem­bly meeting, repeating that the ruling party will only deal with the other parties individually.

Last week, the prime minister said his party would not enter a coalition government with the Sam Rainsy Party.

Sam Rainsy said on Tuesday that he was not worried about the pro­s­pect of remaining in opposition.

“We have always been in opposition our whole lives. We are not used to being in power with all the privileges attached,” he said. But, he added, “Funcinpec has tasted the fruits of power. Some of them can be tempted to break away” from the Alliance.

Despite this risk, he said he believed the Alliance would stick together and praised Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Rana­riddh for keeping a tight rein on his members.

“I believe Prince Ranariddh is holding his party very firmly,” Sam Rainsy said.


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