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Hun Sen to Head Next Cambodian Government - 2003-07-30


Cambodia's prime minister said he will form a new government whether or not he is able to put together a governing coalition, and has warned his opponents that any move to form a temporary government would be considered a coup attempt. At the moment, neither side is talking compromise.

Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party says it won a majority in Sunday's general election, but even by its own figures, the CPP did not win the two-thirds needed to rule alone.

In his first speech since the election, however, Hun Sen announced that he would head the next government, whether or not his opponents agreed to participate in a coalition.

The two main opposition parties have said they would refuse to join in any coalition government led by Hun Sen. The scene appears to be set for a political impasse.

The CPP said it won 73 seats, to 26 seats for the royalist party known as Funcinpec, and 24 seats for the Sam Rainsy Party.

Funcinpec and the Rainsy Party have rejected the CPP count, and called for formation of an interim government until official results are released by the National Election Committee on August 8. In a speech Wednesday morning, Hun Sen said that he had received the most votes and he therefore would not relinquish power. He said the interim government suggested by the opposition would be the equivalent of a military coup, and he likened attempts to form one to committing suicide.

He also warned Funcinpec and the Rainsy Party not to stage protests against him. He said he was not like former Presidents Joseph Estrada of the Philippines or Suharto of Indonesia, who were brought down by "people power" protests.

The Prime Minister, who has led the country for 18 years, seemed to imply that any demonstrations in Cambodia would be met with force.