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Council Members Scuffle at Provincial Banquet

A fistfight erupted last week between newly elected commune council leaders from the ruling Cambodian People's Party and coalition partner Funcinpec at a banquet in Mondolkiri province.

Members of the two parties do not always agree with each other, but such public violence is rare. Soldiers of the two parties battled in the streets of Phnom Penh in a 1997 coup that left Hun Sen the prime minister.

The premier has said he will stick with the embattled royalists, who recently ousted their long-time president, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, for the 2008 national elections.