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No progress at Palace talks

No progress at Palace talks

HOPE of ending the political deadlock preventing a new government faded after the

fourth meeting at the Royal Palace between King Norodom Sihanouk and the three main

political parties produced no breakthrough on December 4.

After the three-hour meeting, Prince Sirivudh confirmed that the CPP refused to hold

separate ballots ratifying a new government and the National Assembly. CPP officials

refused comment. The next meeting is scheduled on December 6.

Before the negotiations, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the new government and National

Assembly would be confirmed in a single vote. He said he did not trust the Alliance

of Democrats to support his candidacy as Prime Minister once the National Assembly

was formed.

"If there is no new government there will also be no new National Assembly,"

he said early on December 4. "This is the spirit for negotiation this evening."

That spirit, his opponents argued, was unconstitutional.

Son Chhay, a Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) parliamentarian, called Hun Sen's proposal a

"coup against the Constitution". He spoke before the negotiations on his

own behalf.

During his speech, Hun Sen disparaged the Alliance as "good cheaters" who

forced him to stage a simultaneous vote for the government and National Assembly.

"It's not in rule of law, but the real situation in Cambodia requires this to

be done because there is no confidence in the [Alliance]," he said.

Sam Rainsy told the Post on December 3 that the Alliance would not allow the National

Assembly to form at the same time as the government.

"We will fight [with the CPP] to bring a good system and a good mechanism to

the new government," he said. Rainsy was optimistic that the new National Assembly

would convene by the end of December and a new government would form in early 2004.

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