Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - BLDP likely to be left out of power share

BLDP likely to be left out of power share

BLDP likely to be left out of power share

FUNCINPEC and the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) are close to finalizing a deal to

share power in local districts, with the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP)

likely to be excluded.

The first step in the deal - giving Funcinpec and CPP an equal number of district

chiefs and vice-chiefs - may be done next month.

BLDP will apparently not be given any district positions unless Funcinpec agrees

to sacrifice some of its own to the smaller party.

The deal - which will break the CPP officials' monopoly on districts throughout Cambodia

- was agreed in principle by Funcinpec and CPP last year. It has been pursued, despite

speculation that it would be abandoned following the exile of Funcinpec's Prince

Norodom Sirivudh, a key player in securing the agreement.

Funcinpec will be allowed to appoint the chiefs of half of Cambodia's 170 districts,

and CPP will keep the others. Those districts which have Funcinpec chiefs will have

CPP vice-chiefs, and vice-versa.

Co-Ministers of Interior Sar Kheng (CPP) and You Hockry (Funcinpec) have been in

charge of negotiating the arrangements.

Hockry said this week that Funcinpec had virtually finished drawing up its list of

nominees for district positions, as had CPP.

"I was told that the CPP list has been prepared for a long time. They were just

waiting for Funcinpec."

He said the new district chief and vice-chiefs could be appointed by government sub-decree

next month, after Funcinpec leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh returned from an overseas

trip.

Hockry said BLDP, which holds 10 seats in the national assembly, would probably not

get any district positions.

"We don't know who to give them to," he said, referring to last May's splitting

of BLDP into rival factions headed by Ieng Mouly and Son Sann.

But Hockry suggested some arrangement for BLDP could be possible later.

Sar Kheng was unavailable for comment but Prum Sokha, the Interior Ministry's Director

General of Administration, said CPP did not want to give up any of its positions

to BLDP.

Sokha said CPP had "many, many" district positions and giving up half of

them to Funcinpec was "not normal", so it did not want to lose more to

BLDP.

"So they [CPP] have asked the Funcinpec people to accept BLDP representatives.

"In my opinion, this is the Cambodian way," said Sokha, who is a CPP member

but stressed he was speaking as an Interior Ministry official, not a party member.

Seng Lapresse, Secretary-General of the Ieng Mouly side of BLDP, disputed Hockry's

comments about the division within BLDP.

"Both Prime Ministers have recognized Ieng Mouly, even the King has recognized

Ieng Mouly, as leader of BLDP.

"We should have some [district positions] according to national reconciliation

and national unity," he said, adding that the Paris peace agreement called for

a sharing of power between parties elected to the National Assembly.

Lapresse said Mouly had been trying to arrange meetings with both Prime Ministers

to discuss the issue.

Asked whether a final deal might be made soon by Funcinpec and CPP without BLDP's

involvement, he said: "Time is not a factor. The understanding that the Paris

peace agreement is to be respected legally, that is the factor."

Representatives of Son Sann's BLDP could not be contacted for comment but they too

are likely to want a slice of any deal.

Sokha said Funcinpec and CPP's nominated district chiefs and vice-chiefs could be

approved by next month, if both parties agreed.

It would take longer to resolve the positions of deputy chiefs, which some districts

have as many as four of, he said.

Some deputy chiefs were "not happy" at the possibility of losing their

jobs, and it could take a "long time" to extend the power-sharing agreement

to include their positions.

CPP had proposed keeping the existing deputies until a decision on their restructuring

was made, and to confirm the appointments of chiefs and vice-chiefs in the meantime.

Loy Sim Chheang, the new Funcinpec Secretary-General who replaced the exiled Sirivudh,

said Funcinpec and CPP had to enter the deal "carefully and slowly to be sure

that we don't hurt each other."

Funcinpec nominees for district positions had been approved by a party committee,

he said. The only unresolved cases were several where nominees had been convicted

or imprisoned under the former State of Cambodia regime.

Funcinpec believed such people should not be barred from holding district positions

if their convictions related to their involvement with the anti-Vietnamese resistance

movement in the 1980s.

But Chheang acknowledged that CPP might object to such nominees, and said Funcinpec

might be willing to replace some candidates if necessary.

Most district officials, who rank between provincial authorities and commune chiefs,

were appointed by CPP's predecessor under the State of Cambodia. Provincial governors

were appointed by arrangement between Funcinpec and CPP after the 1993 UN elections,

and commune chiefs are due to be the subject of local elections next year.

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