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Ranariddh's hot potato

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NATIONAL Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh has come under national and

international pressure, since the Government transferred responsibility for the Khmer

Rouge tribunal law to the National Assembly.

Prince Ranariddh

On July 27 Cabinet Minister Sok An briefed Ranariddh on the Government's final rounds

of talks with UN Undersecretary-General Hans Corell in early July. A few days later

Prime Minister Hun Sen sent a letter to the Prince, saying the sole responsibility

of moving forward with the law now rests with the Assembly.

However, there seems to be some confusion as to how to move forward. During Corell's

visit, the two sides amended the tribunal draft law. The Chairman of the Assembly's

Legislative Committee, Mohn Sophan, said he had not yet received the new law, but

Ranariddh's chief of cabinet, Kol Peng, claims there is no new law and that the committee

should continue to work on the old one that was drafted in January.

Some sources suggest that the Prince has been instructed to delay the Assembly debate

of the tribunal law. The UN has indicated it wants the law passed before the UN General

Assembly in September. On July 27 Ranariddh said there were still matters to be solved

and that the UN may have to send one more delegation. Observers interpret that as

a plea for international help.

"It is understandable that Ranariddh does not want to be left holding the baby

and is looking for help. He should not be blamed. After all his party does not hold

the majority in the Assembly," one diplomat said.

"This is a very difficult issue for the Prince because it is a major one, and

if he presents a Funcinpec position which upsets certain quarters of the CPP, he

is likely to be accused by them of risking the unraveling of the coalition Government.

And he no doubt fears that some forces in the international community would also

brand him as a coalition breaker," the diplomat said.

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