Rainsy Says Opposition Should Stay United

siem reap town – Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party would be better off giving the CPP full power than joining a coalition government unless the ruling party agrees to major government-policy reform in upcoming negotiations, Sam Rainsy said Tuesday.

Speaking after a summit  with King Norodom Sihanouk and party leaders, Sam Rainsy seemed to warn Funcinpec against breaking up the post-election al­liance between the two parties. Specu­lation is high that Fun­cin­pec may cut a deal for a coa­lition with the CPP rather than stay out of power for five years.

“I think that the democratic forces should stay together,” Sam Rainsy said. “I think that it would be better that either Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec stick together and form a united opposition, or we should be together in a coalition government.”

The outspoken government critic—who was expelled from Funcinpec in 1995 after criticizing Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s leadership—said he believes current government policies will lead Cambodia to disaster and that any party in coalition with the CPP may share blame for the state of the country.

“We have to change the system radically,” Sam Rainsy said. “We need to move from a jungle economy to a market economy. We need to dismantle the mafia that damages the economy. We need to put an end to impunity, to stop a terrorist state from committing terrible acts of violence against the Cambodian people.

“If this is not possible, then we would be better off keeping the present CPP-dominated government—because I think Cam­bodia is headed for real trouble,” he said. “Whoever dares take part in a coalition government will take a terrible responsibility.”

Officials from Funcinpec were more cautious Tuesday, saying that almost any scenario is possible in the next government.

“We have to go step by step,” Funcinpec President Prince Ranariddh said. “We should not talk about any agreement. We have to talk about talks first.”

Funcinpec Secretary-General Tol Lah said the party has no plans to abandon its ally.

“It is a very good idea—the democratic opposition should stick together,” he said. But as for joining a coalition, he said, “any­thing could happen.”

Asked whether he thought Funcinpec might break away and cut its own deal with the CPP, Sam Rainsy said he could not speak for his allies: “I think they are weighing very carefully the advantages and disadvantages of joining a coalition government.”

But Sam Rainsy said he is optimistic that Funcinpec shared his agenda for reform, not power. “If [a coalition] is just to share power for the sake of sharing power and position for the sake of position, they would disappoint the people and they would share responsibility for the disaster Cambodia is headed for.”

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