SRP Open to Possible Coalition With CPP in 2008

The SRP is open to the possibility of forming a governing coalition with the current ruling party following the 2008 national elections, the party’s leader said Aug 5.

Sam Rainsy said that, if the party continues to accumulate elec­toral gains as during April’s commune elections, the SRP could emerge from its traditional role as the opposition.

“We have scenarios according to which, if the CPP wins the election, we will not oppose forming a coalition government,” he said. “But our ambition is that if, as we believe, the SRP is the leading party, then we will invite the CPP to join the coalition government.”

The SRP made strong gains in the commune elections, capturing 23.4 percent of the 11,353 commune council seats across the nation. That more than doubled the number of communes it controls compared to the 2002 communes elections, going from 13 communes to 28. Sam Rainsy said that he and SRP officials had discussed the possibility of a coalition at a closed-door meeting Aug 2 in Phnom Penh.

But Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith on Aug 5 said that the CPP was currently only contemplating a Funcinpec coalition.

“Joining with the CPP is a new stance [for the SRP],” the CPP minister said, adding that a viable opposition was important for democracy. “Sam Rainsy’s party should continue to be an opposition party.”

But Sam Rainsy said an SRP coalition with the CPP could be in the interests of the nation.

“We want national reconciliation. We do not regard anyone as the enemy,” Sam Rainsy said, adding that he expects support for the CPP to drop below 50 percent, forcing it into a coalition with the SRP.

“The CPP cannot avoid having the SRP form a coalition,” he said, adding that he believes Funcinpec is no longer a viable political force. “If the CPP embraces Funcinpec, the CPP will also drown.”

Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said he believed the CPP would chose Funcinpec as its coalition partner.

“Samdech [Prime Minister] Hun Sen and Samdech [CPP President] Chea Sim have said the CPP will work with Funcinpec,” he said, declining to respond to Sam Rainsy’s charges that Funcinpec is now a spent force.

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that no other party was yet strong enough to replace the SRP as the opposition.

“The Sam Rainsy Party’s participation in a coalition will weaken the democratic process because the government will be strong and the opposition will be weak,” he said.

 

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