A Change of Guard

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Saturday, 9 August 2008

Hun Sen trying to divide and conquer?

Written by Vong Sokheng and Meas Sokchea
Friday, 08 August 2008
Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post

Royalist parties greet possibility of joining ruling coalition with skepticism and accuse CPP of using divide-and-conquer tactics

Funcinpec secretary general Nhek Bun Chhay.
OPPOSITION parties Thursday denied jockeying for posts in Cambodia's new government, saying that Prime Minister Hun Sen's suggestion of a broad coalition of political groups was a bid to split his opponents and weaken resistance to his ruling Cambodian People's Party.
Hun Sen, speaking publicly Wednesday for the first time since June, said he would welcome "honest men" into government and that the CPP, which is expected to win 90 of the National Assembly's 123 seats, would again form a government with its old coalition partner Funcinpec.

The royalists could get as many as 30 positions in government, including a ministerial post, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Thursday.

"We are waiting for the draft list of government appointments by Nhek Bun Chhay," Khieu Kanharith said, referring to Funcinpec's secretary general, whose faction inside the party has remained loyal to the CPP.

In an apparent allusion to the Human Rights Party (HRP) and Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP), Hun Sen said that other political groups were also asking for a government partnership.

"I welcome all people...this new government will become bloated but it will not be a problem as long as we all keep working together," Hun Sen said, adding that opposition parties were "going back and forth over positions" in government.

But HRP president Kem Sokha told the Post Thursday that his party never considered an agreement with the CPP, saying his party was instead intent on "finding justice for people who [were disenfranchised]" when thousands of names were left off of voter registration lists, preventing them from casting their ballots.

Senior officials with the NRP and main opposition Sam Rainsy Party also denied asking the CPP for a coalition deal.

"The electoral process is not over, we do not recognise the election results. There is no point discussing coalitions," said Mu Sochua, deputy secretary general of the SRP.

She added that Hun Sen's overtures to other parties was "part of the same pattern - control by splitting."

"We are not falling for this at all," she said Thursday, adding that the opposition's complaints over vote irregularities had to be resolved before the parties could join the National Assembly.

The opposition has threatened to boycott the Assembly's first session, drawing an angry rebuke from Hun Sen, who said their seats - 31 in all - would be given to those parties present.

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