CAMBODIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ISSUES CHALLENGE TO HUN SEN


2004-01-02
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Listen to the full interview with Prince Norodom Ranariddh in Khmer:

Part I   ;   ; Part II   ;   ; Part III

WASHINGTON�Cambodian opposition leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh said Friday that his return to Cambodia from France rests in the hands of Prime Minister Hun Sen, RFA reports.

Prince Ranariddh, who has been staying in France for approximately two months, has expressed bitter feelings toward Hun Sen�s Cambodian People�s Party (CPP), which has worked with Ranarddh�s royalist FUNCINPEC Party in a coalition government. �Our experiences with the CPP in the last two terms of government have put the royalist party in a difficult position,� he said in an exclusive interview with RFA�s Khmer service.

�I want [Hun Sen] to explain clearly what will happen in the future government�I don�t want to be wrong again,� he said.

Because Hun Sen failed to reach a two-thirds majority in the August elections, he must form a coalition government with at least one other party. However, the two rival parties�FUNCINPEC party and Sam Rainsy Party�have formed an alliance and refused to join the CPP government unless certain changes are made.

Ranariddh added he would like several conditions met before he returns to Cambodia to bring a resolution to the formation of a new government.

�I would like Hun Sen to clarify whether or not he is going to erase the land treaties he illegally signed with Vietnam,� he said, alluding to the Cambodia-Vietnam Joint Committee on Borders from the 1980s.

�Secondly, does he or does he not agree to set up a Ministry of Immigration?� he said. The problem of illegal immigrants from Vietnam has been increasing in recent years. The problem of illegal Vietnamese immigrants has caused political uneasiness in Cambodia in recent years.

Finally, Ranariddh demanded the resolution of issues including voting laws, deforestation, and poverty, asking �does he include these issues in his government plan if he becomes the next prime minister?�

Ranariddh has been in France since November. One reason for his extended stay is fear of pressure from authorities after he publicly accused Hun Sen of being responsible for the Oct. 18 shooting of FUNCINPEC Party-aligned radio station editor Chuor Chetharith.

Hun Sen�s CPP gained 73 seats in the National Assembly during elections in August. But without a two-thirds majority, Cambodian law prevents him from forming his own government.

The CPP�s two main rivals are the royalist FUNCINPEC Party and the Sam Rainsy Party, which won 26 and 24 seats, respectively. Both parties have formed an alliance against Hun Sen�s leadership in the future government, called the Alliance of Democrats.

Plans for the formation of a new Cambodian government are still tentative, with member parties of the Alliance of Democrats in refusal of forming a coalition government with the CPP. #####

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