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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Coalition eludes the like-minded

Coalition eludes the like-minded

Political negotiations between the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and

Funcinpec have still not reached agreement for the formation of a new coalition

government and National Assembly. Spokesmen for the two parties told reporters

after talks on May 19 that the next discussions would be today.

"We all

have the same political will to form a government and assembly as soon as

possible, but we are not fortune tellers to predict when this will happen," said

Prak Sokhon, CPP's spokesman.

Sokhon and Kassie Neou, Funcinpec's

spokesman, both said the outstanding major issues were reform in the judicial

system, Cambodian territorial integrity, nationality and immigration, control of

exploitation of natural resources, public meetings to answer questions,

accreditation of educational providers, and review of private investment in the

toll-road national route 4.

"We understand each other over political

programs and we need more talk in order to find a way through," Neou said. "If

we have the political will to work together we will compromise."

Sokhon

and Neou told reporters they were not clear whether the issues would finally be

resolved at the level of task force negotiator or would be left for Prime

Minister Hun Sen and Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

With

the political deadlock nearly 10 months old, King Norodom Sihanouk on May 11

invited the three main parties for an agents' meeting outside Pyongyang in North

Korea, but the offer was declined by Hun Sen and Ranariddh.

"Kofi Annan,

secretary-general of the United Nations, has expressed his concern about

Cambodian political crisis the same as I did," wrote the King. "Our country has

numerous obligations that must be solved urgently according to international

law. This requires us to have a new government and National Assembly."

CPP and Funcinpec decided they would not meet the King unless and until

they have a final agreement, which they then will submit to the King with a

positive result for the royal assent required by the Constitution.

The

King's invitation cames a day after Funcinpec threatened to withdraw from the

current coalition government, as he was concerned the situation was plunging the

country into a deeper political crisis.

In another statement the King

said he could not be held responsible for Cambodian territorial integrity and

its judges because he held no power under the Constitution.

The King has

been critical of numerous Articles under the Constitution which he said were

unreasonable and would hold him responsible for the state of the nation if the

deadlock was not resolved.

He requested a Constitutional amendment that

would remove his role as protector of national sovereignty and territorial

integrity.

The Articles 7, 8, 132, and 134 of the Constitution state the

King is the guarantor of Cambodia's independence and territorial integrity and

protector of rights and freedom for all citizens and guarantor of international

treaties, chair of the Supreme Council of Magistracy and also the guarantor of

the independence of the country's judiciary.

"The King reigns, but has no

power. I am absolutely not going to be held responsible for anything that they

[the government] do," wrote the King.

The King's comment follows

widespread media reports about poverty, where Cambodians are forced to cross the

border to beg from neighbor countries, and the issues of border encroachment,

rampant corruption and lack of an independent judiciary system.

The King

wrote that children were arrested by Thai border military police, were undressed

and forced in their underwear to walk back across landmines planted in the 1970s

and 19+80s.

"I would like to ask the poor children to beg from Samdech

Hun Sen and his wife Bunrany Hun Sen who is the head of Red Cross; this is

better than to beg from Thailand and Vietnam," wrote the King.

The King

expressed his concern that Cambodia will automatically become a republic if

there is no Throne Council and no new government and National Assembly. The

Throne Council appoints a new King. It can only be created by a new National

Assembly. King Sihanouk is 83 years old and concerned about his health. He has

not yet named a successor.

He said the current coalition government was

unlawful and against the spirit of the Constitution.

A source (who

declined to be named in print) said the monarch complains that because of the

Constitutional inconsistency, he has been obliged to play the role of a

figurehead who can only endorse questionable decisions, sometimes with

disastrous consequences for the nation made by the government.

Sok Sam

Oeun, director of Cambodian Defenders Project said: "I think the King must have

the power to play his role required by the Constitution."

Keo Remy,

outspoken opposition lawmaker, said the King's role doesn't work, because the

CPP has been trying to reduce his popularity.

Khieu Kanharith, CPP's

spokesman said the party had no comment about the King's views.

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