Too Early for Coalition Talks, Ranariddh Says

Funcinpec has not yet begun negotiating with the Cambodian People’s Party to form a coalition government, Prince Norodom Ranariddh claimed yesterday.

Speaking on his return to Phnom Penh after a three-day stay in Bangkok, the Funcinpec leader rejected reports that the two parties have been talking about a coalition.

“I would like to clearly deny information according to which some Funcinpec parliament mem­bers have been negotiating with the CPP,” Prince Ra­­nariddh told journalists at Poch­entong Airport.

Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is vice president of the CPP, said in Siem Reap on Thurs­day that preliminary discussions between the two parties had taken place, with King Noro­dom Si­hanouk’s blessing.

But Prince Ranariddh said Mon­day it was still too early to be­gin discussing a coalition.

“We cannot say anything be­fore we know what is happening….We will have to wait until the final decision,” he said, referring to the fact that complete results from the July 26 polls are still to be announced.

He also said he had no plans to meet with his father, the King, to discuss the coalition.

The CPP appeared headed toward certain victory in the election, with the party and an election watchdog predicting it would take 64 or 65 seats in the 122-seat National Assembly.

But that is still far short of the two-thirds majority needed to form a new government.

Unofficial results show Fun­cinpec projected to win 43 seats.

Prince Ranariddh also downplayed reports that he had met with royalist resistance commander Nhiek Bun Chhay in Bang­kok over the weekend.

“We don’t talk about the military,” he said.

Reintegration of loyal royalist troops near the Thai border should be a high priority for the new government, he added.

Aides to the prince were quoted Saturday as saying Prince Ra­na­riddh had met the resistance general at the prince’s Bang­­kok residence.

Nhiek Bun Chhay also said he had spoken with the prince Friday night. “We didn’t decide anything,” the general was quoted as saying.


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