F UNCINPEC is to be given an equal share of power in local district authorities throughout
Cambodia under a deal with the Cambodian People's Party, according to senior Funcinpec
The move - breaking CPP control of districts - would be the first upheaval in the
balance of power since provincial governorships were divided between the two parties
after the 1993 election.
It would be followed by the already-announced election of commune officials by villagers
in early 1997.
But instead of similar elections for district chiefs and staff - who rank between
commune and provincial authorities - CPP and Funcinpec will allocate the positions
CPP has agreed in principle to a 50/50 division of district-level officials, according
to Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh and co-Minister of Interior
The final division of districts is being negotiated by Hockry and his CPP co-Minister,
Sirivudh, who referred to the deal at an Oct 17 press conference, said he hoped a
full agreement could be reached by the end of the month.
He said Hockry and Kheng were negotiating over a proposal from CPP and another from
Sirivudh - who has repeatedly urged Funcinpec to seek a real 50 percent share of
power in Cambodia - said he had first proposed the deal in February.
"This is a big issue. And to my knowledge, there is a good compromise, but I
would like to say that we cannot wait...
"We must finalize absolutely how to share the districts between Funcinpec and
CPP... our grassroots cannot wait any longer."
Hockry confirmed the deal, which he said had been agreed in principle with CPP "three
or four months ago."
Sar Kheng had recently provided a list of districts where the CPP wanted the position
of district chief to remain in CPP hands.
Funcinpec had submitted its own list and Hockry said he was now "working out
the details" with Sar Kheng.
Hockry said he envisaged a straight-forward division of districts. In a province
with eight districts, four district chiefs would be appointed by Funcinpec and four
Districts with Funcinpec chiefs would have a CPP deputy chief, and vice versa, in
line how the parties had divided up provincial governorships.
Asked when a final agreement would be made, Hockry said: "That's up to CPP.
I have no timetable but I expect the answer from CPP quite soon."
An aide to Sar Kheng declined comment, referring inquiries to another assistant who
could not be contacted for comment.
Political observers contacted by the Post gave mixed views about the apparent deal.
One said it had been "inevitable" that district power would have to be
shared at some stage. The deal had probably been eased by Funcinpec and CPP's recent
talk of the coalition government continuing after the next general election.
Another observer questioned whether CPP would readily agree to all that Funcinpec
seemed to want, saying that the deal "looks great on paper - but what's the
Seng Lapresse, Secretary-General of the Ieng Mouly Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party
faction, said the BLDP would want a slice of any such deal.
Meanwhile, a Funcinpec congress planned for early November has been delayed till
February or March, for reasons Sirivudh maintained were purely "technical."