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Past Post: Hints of deal on three-way government

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6-Past-Post.jpg

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY

Vol. 12, No. 21

October 10-24, 2003

THE formation of a new government inched closer to reality on October 4 when 123 newly elected parliamentarians attended a ceremony inaugurating the new National Assembly at the Royal Palace.

The elected parliamentarians were sworn in with the blessing of King Norodom Sihanouk and gave oaths to serve the nation by fighting against corruption and injustice.

Since then, the three main political parties have shown few outward signs of ending the stalemate stretching into its second month. Until it is resolved, the new government is unable to form.

But on October 6, a Funcinpec official hinted at an impending deal that would split power between the three parties, giving the lion's share to the Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

"A deal is imminent," said a Royalist official close to Prince Sirivudh, secretary general of Funcinpec. "The CPP will get 16 ministries. Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party will divide 10 among themselves - five for each party."

The Alliance of Democrats, the coalition between the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) and Funcinpec, had demanded a power-sharing deal be agreed upon before the new government can form.

"We need time and political will to reform the new National Assembly," said opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

He acknowledged that Funcinpec and SRP had not won enough votes to form a new government but proposed that Prince Ranariddh be appointed president of the assembly and fill two deputy president positions with one member each from the CPP and SRP

On October 8, Khieu Kanharith, spokesman for the CPP, said the ruling party was willing to discuss power-sharing agreements with Funcinpec and the SRP.

"We are already prepared for a negotiation [to set up the National Assembly] with other political parties, but they should not block the way that we cannot walk," he said, referring to the demand by the Alliance of Democrats for Hun Sen to step down as prime minister.

He said the priority for negotiations was hammering out the exact details of an arrangement for the assembly.

However, at least one political observer and a senior Funcinpec official said that the Alliance of Democrats would crumble once Ranariddh finalised a power-sharing agreement with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Prince Ranariddh has vehemently denied the accusations.

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