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No Coalition for Prince’s Party: Hun Sen

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday shut down any chance of a coalition deal with the Norodom Ranariddh Party, leaving its two elected National Assembly members aligned with neither the ruling party nor the opposition.

Hun Sen’s remarks followed the arrival in Phnom Penh Wednesday of Prince Norodom Ranariddh from a year and a half of exile and were an apparent clarification of statements made by a government spokesman Wednesday claiming the CPP was considering a coalition deal.

Hun Sen said that he told Prince Ranariddh in a telephone conversation Sunday that there would be no coalition deal.

“The prince asked Hun Sen about the possibility of the Norodom Ranariddh Party joining the government, but Hun Sen replied to the prince, ‘The government today has a very big head and is not considering the party for the government,” Hun Sen told an audience Thursday, during a scholarship awards ceremony at the National School of Pedagogy.

The Norodom Ranariddh Party briefly aligned itself with the opposition following July's election, claiming alongside the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties the results had been flawed. But the party changed its position after only a few days, endorsing the results.

Hun Sen said recently the party's position on the election had helped his decision to allow the prince to return from exile in Kuala Lumpur, where he was avoiding an 18-month prison sentence on a breech of trust conviction.

NRP spokesman Suth Dina denied on Thursday that his party had officially sought to join the government’s coalition and had not drawn up any lists or plans to do so. However, he said, “there may be some people in the party thinking of their own interests from the return of the prince.”

Suth Dina would not confirm where the party’s support would be in National Assembly voting, but he said the party planned a meeting among its top leaders Friday to discuss their political strategy.

Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party has welcomed Funcinpec into a coalition, offering it more than 30 senior positions in a new cabinet of 218 senior CPP positions. Added to those will be 205 undersecretaries of state, 26 of them Funcinpec.

SRP Deputy Secretary-General Mu Sochua declined to comment on a potential opening for Prince Ranariddh with the opposition, saying only, “The prince changes his mind very quickly.”

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha said he would welcome Prince Ranariddh’s party to join the opposition minority in the National Assembly in working groups for the “national interest.”

Over the past three weeks, unauthorized people may have been attempting to broker positions in the ruling government to non-coalition officials, Hun Sen said Thursday.

“I would like to clarify that this government has only the CPP and Funcinpec, without others,” Hun Sen said. “So if someone is ready to be secretary of state, deputy provincial governor or deputy district governor, come and get your money back, or you have been cheated.”