KING Norodom Sihanouk is expected to arrive in Phnom Penh
on Monday, Oct 5, following the breakdown of Sept 29
tripartite talks to form a government.
The Chinese embassy confirmed Sihanouk's trip to Beijing
had been cancelled. "Everything has been
arranged," said one anonymous Palace source,
"he will arrive at 10:30am Monday."
Opposition delegates at the talks maintained their
parties' call to revisit the running of July's election.
They refused to acknowledge the sole CPP agenda which was
to form a coalition.
The opening of parliament has now been delayed. Sihanouk
expected to persuade Funcinpec dean Ieng Kieth to open it
and CPP seem to be backing on a bloc of Funcinpec MPs
falling behind the King, rather than Prince Norodom
Ranariddh, one diplomat said.
This assumes, however, that Sihanouk has a genuine desire
to see Funcinpec in a coalition subservient to Hun Sen;
one that many within the Royalist party believe would be
the end of them.
"On the Friday [Sept 25], before [Ranariddh] left
for Thailand, he told Rainsy there would be no deal with
Hun Sen," said one informed source.
The other whisper campaign around Phnom Penh is how
successful the CPP has been in buying or threatening
opposition MPs to split from their parties. CPP just need
18 to secure two-thirds of parliament and a government.
Funcinpec have long been afraid of this. Loyalists to
Ranariddh himself now isolated in Bangkok with no plans
of returning soon are comparing notes on who the probable
defectors from their party might be.
"But [Hun Sen] doesn't have enough yet, otherwise
they could all walk happily into Parliament together.
Remember, he hasn't been successful in pushing
Ranariddh," said one CPP official.
Rainsy himself is now off on an international jaunt to
drum up the sort of international pressure against the
CPP that the opposition moans is not forthcoming from
"Everything is blocked... it's plain the country
cannot go on like this," said one diplomat. He added
that a senior Funcinpec official had said the party
wanted to keep up the stalemate for two months.
"This has the makings of a major institutional
He said: "I think the King knows his
responsibility... If he left for Beijing the country
wouldn't even have a head of state, let along a
government." Sihanouk has long been postponing a
trip to Beijing for medical treatment.
Many analysts are polarized in their views those who
believe that Hun Sen is the one under pressure to achieve
a legitimate government, principally to get aid money
flowing back into his beleaguered economy; to those who
believe Ranariddh's self-imposed holiday is a
"face-saving" step for an inevitable Funcinpec
and possibly Rainsy party split.
"If Ranariddh stays in Bangkok then Funcinpec are
staying firm. If he comes back that's a bad sign for
them, it means he has to come back to prevent a
split," said one source.
Another source told the Post that the 1999 budget had not
yet been struck because 60% of it had to come from the
international community, and the government can't yet
count on that happening.
An independent source confirmed this information.
If the CPP cannot strike a coalition, Hun Sen said the
party would amend the Constitution to run the country
alone, or he would continue governing with Ung Huot.
However, he can't change the Constitution without
Funcinpec's vote, and Japan told Hun Sen in April such a
step was out of the question anyway. A Hun Sen/Huot
government would not be acceptable to international
"I can imagine a scenario of Funcinpec splitting...
Ieng Kieth and others could find that perfectly
justifiable," said one analyst. "Ieng Kieth
could not refuse the King.
"This can't go on, either politically or
economically," he said. "Hun Sen is very
calm... Ranariddh could lose everything."
"[But] it's very, very dangerous," said