Sam Rainsy said Friday night that the alliance between Funcinpec and his self-named party remains strong, and he praised the Funcinpec-CPP summit result.
He claimed that as long as “democratic forces” get a fair share of government, he doesn’t care if positions go to his party or Funcinpec.
“What’s important is that the democratic forces have gained positions that we all along have demanded,” the president of the Sam Rainsy Party said by telephone from Paris. “For example, Prince Ranariddh will be the president of the National Assembly. It also is of most importance that the leaders of the parties have agreed to a program of reform.”
The harsh critic of Second Prime Minister Hun Sen said he was in regular phone contact with Prince Ranariddh and cited the amnesties for five men and an agreement to reintegrate the resistance army as significant gains for the opposition.
It remains unclear whether his party will be part of the coalition government, he said.
“It’s too early to say,” he said. “I could be in the coalition or not be in the government.”
Sam Rainsy said he will be supportive of the CPP and Funcinpec if the two parties’ priority is to reform the government, which he said is “exploiting and repressing” the Cambodian people.
“As long as this opening [for reform] exists, the SRP will be pleased to participate either in opposition or in the Government,” according to a party statement released Saturday from Paris. “All options remain open.”
However, the statement implied Sam Rainsy is ready to let CPP and Funcinpec run the government while he and 14 other party members remain active in the National Assembly.
“The SRP has always maintained it is not interested in ministerial portfolios and other posts for their own sake,” it said.
It added that the nation’s leaders must honestly address “grave problems facing the nation, including deforestation, corruption, abuse of human rights, impunity, food shortages, epidemic disease and drug trafficking.”
The statement also warned that there are still potential roadblocks to cooperation between the opposition and the CPP.
“Many more issues must be decided before Cambodia can move forward in a democratic direction. The role of the proposed upper chamber of the legislature must be further defined….The Constitution must be amended to create the new Senate. All members of the Assembly must be guaranteed the freedom to vote according to their consciences,” the statement said.
In the phone conversation, Sam Rainsy said that he was not opposed to amending the Constitution to create a Senate. He said the new body would have “very little power” and is “tailor-made” for CPP President Chea Sim, who will be the chairman of the upper house after giving up his position as National Assembly president.
“You have to put Chea Sim somewhere. You can’t deprive someone of everything he has,” Sam Rainsy said, noting the CPP president will remain the acting head of state when King Norodom Sihanouk is outside the country.
Sam Rainsy said he will return to Phnom Penh before Nov 25, when the National Assembly is scheduled to convene. He said he hopes to be in the capital by Friday.
He doesn’t fear arrest because he has parliamentary immunity but said he does fear for the safety of his supporters, implying they could be targets of extreme elements of the CPP.
© 1998 – 2013, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.