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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Expert Warns of Post-Poll Crisis

Expert Warns of Post-Poll Crisis

To avert a dangerous contradiction of powers in the post electoral period, preparations

should be made to form a provisional government drawn from the National Assembly,

a Belgian academic has proposed.

Raoul Jennar, author of the Cambodian Chronicles, said that during this period there

will be two conflicting claims of legitimacy and two opposing expressions of national


The U.N.-supervised elections will produce a National Assembly which Jennar contends

will be the only legitimate Cambodian institution. But according to the letter of

the Paris agreements, the Supreme National Council, the reconciliation body which

groups the four rival factions, is the "sole legitimate source of authority"

and the embodiment of Cambodian sovereignty during the transitional period. This

transitional period lasts until a new constitution is drawn up by the Assembly. Three

months were allocated for this task.

Jennar said the SNC, was "born from the compromises of foreign powers and imposed

on the Cambodians," while the National Assembly, the result of universal suffrage,

would be the representation of the true will of the Cambodian people.

After the elections, he said, it will no longer be possible for any SNC faction to

claim it alone represents the will of the people.

But despite this, Jennar questions whether, during the three month period, the

factions could continue to act in a manner which would constitute a flagrant contradiction

of the election results. For example, he asks, could the Cambodian People's Party

continue to govern almost 80 percent of the country if they did not have a majority

in the Assembly? Or could FUNCINPEC continue to rule their zone in Ampil-Phum Khu

if they have no representative elected in the province of Banteay Meanchey?

"Accepting opposing legitimacies and a government situation which, for 12 weeks,

fails to implement the will of the voters, is exposing Cambodia to great risk,"

Jennar said, adding that this particular period is already expected to be extremely

volatile due to the failure of crucial aspects of the peace plan such as the demobilization

of 70 percent of the country's armed forces or the creation of a genuine neutral

political environment.

As a solution to the potential problems, Jennar proposes the formation of an interim

government which reflects the various party's representation in the Assembly. "A

provisional government of national unity would be a decisive element of stability,"

he said. He also claimed it would facilitate the transition of authority and also

help the formation of the majority needed to approve the constitution.

As soon as the Assembly is installed, Prince Norodom Sihanouk should organize discussions

to propose a mandate for the provisional government, Jennar said. "The mandate

would be defined by the deliberation of the Assembly which invested it," he


"Prince Sihanouk would represent the double legitimacy of president of the SNC

and prime minister of a provisional government which draws its legitimacy from the

Assembly elected by universal suffrage," Jennar stated.

This proposal means that the power vacuum would be filled by a government which accurately

reflects the will of the electorate.

"Above all, this would avoid wasting time. The sooner a state apparatus,

a national army and security services under the control of legitimate authorities

are created, the sooner the reconstruction of the country and, in particular, improvement

of the fate of the rural population can begin. This, in turn, means a greater chance

of reducing the threat represented by Pol Pot and his outlaws," Jennar said.



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