Samdech Chea Sim, front left, President of the Senate in the pre-election government, and caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen line up for a photograph during the swearing in of the National Assembly by King Norodom Sihanouk at the Royal Palace on Saturday, October 4. Behind them are Tea Banh, left, pre-election Co-Minister of Defense, Hor Namhong, pre-election Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, and Sok An, pre-election Minister of the Council of Ministers.
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
"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 ten 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.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy warned on October 8 that the assembly would fail if
a power-sharing agreement was not reached before the National Assembly was called
to order. According to the Constitution, that will happen when the oldest member
of the assembly, CPP lawmaker Chea Soth, 75, convenes it.
"We need time and political will to reform the new National Assembly,"
said Rainsy. "Funcinpec and SRP will still continue to pressure the CPP to realize
the demands of our supporters."
He acknowledged that Funcinpec and SRP had not won enough votes to form a new government,
but together, he said, they could push for reforms that served the interest of the
"I think that the CPP will understand our demands and that the key to breaking
the political standoff is now in the hands of the CPP," Rainsy said.
He said the Alliance of Democrats wants to reform election laws, and implement a
power-sharing agreement that employs a system of "checks and balances".
He 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 for the National Assembly with Funcinpec and
"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,"
said Kanharith, 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 on
October 9 that the Alliance of Democrats would crumble once Ranariddh finalized a
power-sharing agreement with Prime Minister Hun Sen. Prince Ranariddh has vehemently
denied the accusations.
A political observer on October 9 said a golf match occurred between Deputy Prime
Minister Sar Kheng and Prince Ranariddh in Poipet this month during which the two
held "unofficial negotiations about the power-sharing agreement to install a
"I think that Prince Ranariddh will split in the last minute from the Alliance
of Democrats if they reach a power-sharing agreement," said the observer.
A senior Funcinpec official told the Post on October 9 that he agreed with the observer's
assessment that a new government was likely to form between the CPP and Funcinpec.
Ranariddh has vehemently denied that the meeting took place and reaffirmed his allegiance
to the alliance with the SRP.
"I have never met the CPP officials for a negotiation about power-sharing,"
he said. "Funcinpec is still loyal to the Alliance of Democrats and adheres
to a strong position that a tripartite government must form."