Unresolved Standoff Leaves Public Confused

The latest false start in negotiations between the three main political parties has left many people in a state of confusion, Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections said.

“I think most people don’t un­derstand,” he said Thursday. “For some people, it isn’t clear why they do not have the meeting.”

For the second time this week, Funcinpec on Thursday declined to attend a meeting that was aimed at setting up the new National Assembly.

An additional meeting today on the formation of the new government also was canceled as Fun­cinpec continues to demand that the CPP drop a court complaint against Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, be­fore talks begin.

The delay has caused some anxiety, Koul Panha said. “I think some people feel un­com­fortable,” he said. “Since 1993 and 1998, the political parties have ma­tured, but not matured enough to build the confidence of the people.”

Since the July 27 general elections, the parties have not officially met outside of two meetings called by King Norodom Siha­nouk.

The latest hang-up hinges on a Nov 4 complaint made by the CPP in Phnom Penh Municipal Court, charging that Prince Ranariddh defamed and falsely accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of playing a role in the killing last month of pro-Funcinpec radio journalist Chuor Chetharith.

Calling the CPP complaint “groundless,” Funcinpec spokes­man Kassie Neou said Thursday it was made in bad faith and would hamper any deal-making with the CPP. Sam Rainsy Party officials said that, while they were ready for talks, they would support Fun­cinpec’s decision and stand by their Alliance of Dem­o­crats partner.

CPP spokesman Khieu Kan­harith on Friday called Funcin­pec’s condition “a very low trick.”

“This is a small pretext to block negotiations,” he said. The CPP has no intention of withdrawing the complaint, he added.

Khieu Kanharith said the deadlock would be remembered by the public in the next election.


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