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CPP predicts 'positive' summit with Funcinpec

A summit between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Funcinpec president Prince Norodom Ranariddh

will be a "positive meeting" and will occur before March 20, said Khieu

Kanharith, Cambodian People's Party (CPP) spokesman.

Kanharith said the date has already been set but he did not want to announce it publicly

for fear it might spark violence.

"We can say before March 20, [but] we don't want to say a specific date because

we are afraid bad activities will happen before the meeting, such as shooting,"

Kanharith said on March 11.

The Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) said yesterday that their relationship with Alliance of

Democrats partner Funcinpec remains strong even though the CPP has tried to split

them up.

Rainsy accused the CPP of spreading rumors about a conflict within the Alliance to

confuse local and international observers.

"There is nothing surprising about the summit because SRP has given the rights

to the Prince to defend a common stance of the Alliance of Democrats," said

Rainsy.

But Kanharith said that the top CPP leaders will be meeting with Ranariddh at the

summit in his role as Funcinpec president, not as the president of the Alliance of

Democrats.

Since returning from Europe on March 6, Prince Ranariddh has denied his party is

split over its alliance with the SRP and promised again to push for the creation

of a new tripartite government.

However, the latest round of behind-closed-door meetings to resolve the seven-and-a-half

month political deadlock have caused suspicion between the Alliance of Democrats

partners, those involved say.

Nhek Bunchhay, chief negotiator for Funcinpec, said that senior officials of SRP

had tried to lobby the CPP to form a coalition government with two parties (CPP and

SRP).

Bunchhay said that in the last week Sam Rainsy had used pro-SRP newspapers to accuse

him of betraying the Alliance during his discussions with the CPP.

On March 4, three deputy secretary generals of Funcinpec told reporters that they

rejected the SRP's idea to allow the CPP to run the government alone if the formation

of a three-party government proves impossible.

Serey Kosal said that Funcinpec had received a petition from local supports from

all provinces indicating about 90 percent support a coalition government between

CPP and Funcinpec.

Bunchhay warned that a fragmentation of the royalist party would occur if the party

failed to consider the Funcinpec-supporting civil servants who might defect to the

CPP under a one party system.

"We will not allow CPP to run the government alone; we must consider the interest

of our party which has more than 40,000 civil servants working within the government,"

Bunchhay and Kosal said, shouting over the top of each other during a press conference

in Phnom Penh.

"We must work in order to keep them a job," they said.

"The final decision depends on Samdech Krom Preah [Ranariddh]," said Kosal.

On March 5, King Norodom Sihanouk wrote on his website warning Funcinpec not to go

into a two-party government with Hun Sen's CPP.

The King predicted that if Prince Ranariddh accepts Hun Sen's formula to create a

two-party government, the royalist party will lose all credibility and honor in the

eyes of compatriots and foreigners.

Funcinpec was already very divided and weakened, the King said, and forecast a bleak

future for the party in the 2008 general elections.

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