THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
Vol. 7, No. 17
August 7 - 20 1998
HE 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, saying "we cannot allow the current situation to continue".
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.
Khieu 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 a massively empowering position, and incidentally allow it some cheap points by blaming Funcinpec for not entering into Hun Sen's magnanimous vision of ‘reconciliation.'
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 August 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.
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.