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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CPP may go solo in next government

CPP may go solo in next government

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TRYING TO KEEP QUIET

Ranariddh and Rainsy say it is too soon to talk about a coalition, but word is still getting out.

THE make-up of Cambodia's next government is still conjecture but there's an outside

chance the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) could wield sole executive power.

CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith confirmed that his party wants to break the present

stalemate between the CPP and the defeated Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) opposition.

"We cannot allow the current situation to continue," Kanharith said.

One of Funcinpec's options in defeat includes conceding a constitutional change that

would allow the CPP to rule by simple majority, and sit in opposition.

That option is being discussed within Funcinpec's steering committee, which will

eventually decide whether to oppose the CPP or negotiate a partnership.

Kanharith's comments confirm that the CPP is also exploring that same - and for them

tasty - scenario. "Don't forget that the current National Assembly still has

the power to change any law," he said.

Sole rule would put the CPP in an massively empowering position, and incidentally

allow it some cheap points by blaming Fun-cinpec for not entering into Hun Sen's

magnanimous vision of 'reconciliation'.

Funcinpec, on the other hand, reckons that while the CPP may govern more easily under

a simple majority, so too could it more easily fall in a no-confidence vote.

If the opposition is to be believed, however, the CPP is moving to get the 82 seats

it needs to govern the 122-seat parliament without having to touch the Constitution,

which requires a two-thirds majority to form a government.

The CPP, according to sources within both opposition camps, is courting as many as

16 Assembly members-elect to cede from Funcinpec and the SRP. They allege that a

figure of $75,000 has been mentioned as an enticement to each MP to defect.

Under the National Election Committee's (NEC) seat-allocation formula, the preliminary

results announced Aug 5 would see the CPP take 64 seats, Funcinpec 43 and the SRP

15.

That puts the CPP 18 seats short of sole parliamentary control.

Funcinpec and the SRP are shying away from negotiating a coalition in the hope of

strengthening their positions following recounts and appeals.

However, analysts doubt whether the NEC has the patience or the commitment to seriously

investigate opposition allegations of fraud, any more than the international community

has of changing its judgement that the election was free and fair.

"They laughed at us," said a member of Funcinpec's steering committee about

the international reaction to claims of fraud. "They also laughed at us when

we were smashed [in July 1997]. But we will show them."

Hun Sen should be confident that his win will be legitimized by the final verdict

of the Joint International Observer Group (JIOG), due out in a couple of weeks.

JIOG is to base its judgement solely on its observers' reports. Critics say those

reports carry no context of the violence and intimidation that went before and after

polling day. Election day was described by one senior JIOG member as having gone

off in a "great holiday-like atmosphere".

Rainsy says that JIOG chairman Sven Linder told him that the appeals and recounting

processes fall outside his group's scope.

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