Sam Rainsy said Wednesday he would join a coalition government with the CPP if his party won substantially more seats in the 2003 national elections.
“The Sam Rainsy Party promises to work with the CPP and any other political party if we win more seats in 2003,” Sam Rainsy said.
He added that a coalition would have to be based on a public agreement, with donor nations witnessing its signing.
CPP honorary President Heng Samrin said his party would welcome the coalition if the Sam Rainsy Party wins enough seats to warrant it. “But [Sam Rainsy] must give up his hard-line stance and criticism…of CPP officials. If [Sam Rainsy] is always criticizing his partner, how can we work with him?”
Sam Rainsy said his party would not compromise its philosophy. “We will walk away from the coalition government if they do not respect the [coalition] agreement,” he said. “Funcinpec has worked with the CPP without effectiveness, achieving nothing but corruption. I would not allow this.”
He said he no longer considered Funcinpec a competitor. “Our party has forward momentum. Funcinpec’s momentum is in the opposite direction,” he said.
He said the Sam Rainsy Party’s strategy for the 2003 elections will focus on the provinces. “Phnom Penh is our stronghold,” he said. “We must keep up our momentum here, but we will devote our energy and resources to the more remote areas.”
Heng Samrin said Funcinpec would still fare respectably in 2003. “I don’t think Funcinpec’s votes…will go down to zero,” he said. “I hope it will get enough seats to create a coalition government again.” (Additional reporting by Molly Ball and Yun Samean)