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Cambodia Opposition Parties Sign Agreement


The leaders of Cambodia's two main opposition parties have signed a power-sharing agreement that will give them both positions in a future coalition government. The deal is a new sign that Cambodia's lengthy political deadlock is nearing its end.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Sam Rainsy signed the agreement late Tuesday that they would push for the future government to share power between the Funcinpec Party and Sam Rainsy Party (SRP). The document faxed to news agencies adds that all important government decisions and tasks will have to be approved by both parties.

A Monday meeting between Prince Ranariddh and Prime Minister Hun Sen produced what officials called "a big step forward" in ending Cambodia's political impasse when the prime minister indicated the SRP would be allowed join the government in some form.

However, no one has said how many parties would actually form the next government. One possible compromise is a two and a half party coalition in which Funcinpec shares some of its government positions with the SRP.

Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party won the July election, but did not gain enough seats in the National Assembly to set up a new government. For months the CPP has been unable to agree on terms for a coalition with Funcinpec and the SRP, who have banded together to form the Alliance of Democrats.

But as the deadlock appears headed for a resolution, a potential snag could be that prosecutors said Wednesday a criminal complaint against Hun Sen could proceed through the court. Sam Rainsy filed the complaint last month alleging Hun Sen was behind a 1997 grenade attack on a Rainsy supporters' rally. The blasts killed more than a dozen people and left more than one hundred injured.

The country's popular King Norodom Sihanouk said on his web site Wednesday that Hun Sen had shown "great kindness" in allowing Funcinpec to bring the SRP into the government. However, the king said he doubted the government would be up and running before he returned in April from medical treatment in Beijing.