Eleven months after Cambodia's disputed general election, the two main political parties buried their differences yesterday and agreed to form a coalition government, officials said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) signed the power-sharing deal with Prince Norodom Ranariddh, head of the royalist FUNCINPEC party, according to a joint statement.
"At last, we have made it after months of negotiations," said Om Yentieng, one of Hun Sen's top advisers.
The CPP won 73 of the 123 National Assembly seats in the July polls, but fell short of the two-thirds majority required to run the southeast Asian nation, which is still recovering from the genocidal ravages of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.
FUNCINPEC, Hun Sen's reluctant coalition partner in the previous administration, won 26 seats and the opposition Sam Rainsy Party won 24.
The agreement, which should pave the way for speedy ratification of a UN-backed Khmer Rouge genocide trial, sees the CPP retaining effective control of the deeply impoverished country.
Barring any more last-minute hiccups, the National Assembly should also be able to approve Cambodia's accession to the World Trade Organization, agreed in Mexico last year.
Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge soldier who has been in charge for nearly 20 years, remains at the helm. The statement says his party controls key ministries such as finance, foreign affairs, commerce and telecommunications.
FUNCINPEC, which had a disastrous election, losing nearly half of its seats, has had to satisfy itself with more low-key ministries such as health, environment, education and sport and culture.
As in the previous administration, the defense and interior ministries will have joint ministers, although diplomats say there is no doubt the CPP, which has grown from a 1980s Vietnamese occupation government, will be running the show.
"I expect the new National Assembly to be in place within the next two weeks, and a new government to be in place by then," CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith said.
Officials from FUNCINPEC and the Sam Rainsy party, which at one point looked as though it might form part of a "national unity" three-party government, could not immediately be reached for comment.
In the absence of a government for the last 11 months, the CPP has continued to run the country on a day-to-day basis, meaning that the political impasse has not had too noticeable an economic effect.
However, the opposition and non-governmental groups say there appears to have been an increase in overall levels of corruption as senior business and political figures make use of the power vacuum.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable