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Funcinpec Unlikely to Commemorate 1997 Coup

Top officials of the government coalition partner Funcinpec, who saw many of their leaders murdered and lost much of their power in the 1997 coup d'etat, said Tuesday they were unsure about holding ceremonies to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the fighting.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and forces loyal to his Cambodian People's Party wrested power from contentious Funcinpec, led by Prince Norodom Ranariddh, in a violent coup July 5 and July 6, 1997.

Current Funcinpec President Keo Puth Reaksmey said the party had no plans to commemorate the fighting but would probably be meeting on that day. Funcinpec was busy with preparations for the 2008 national elections, he added.

"I cannot assure you, because if I do, it might be wrong," Keo Puth Reaksmey said. "If we go ahead and do it, it will not be a problem. We have time and the budget for it. The members are going to the provinces and towns and maybe no one is thinking about this yet."

The coup, which saw executions and disappearances, led to plummeting foreign investment, the loss of government positions by Funcinpec members and a CPP seizure of control.

In past years, under Prince Ranariddh, the party marked the day.

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party members said they had plans to commemorate the violence.

"SRP always remembers that day as a bad day for democracy in Cambodia," opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said.