17 June, 2021

Ominous Signs

As the country prepares for polls, violence and an attempted coup' threaten to tear apart the fragile coalition government

Ominous Signs

CAMBODIA'S political goulash of defections, exile, coups, and killings went on the boil last fortnight when the ruling royalist Funcinpec party teetered on theverge of losing its majority in the National Assembly. On April 19 dissidents withdrew their support from the party, but it was not clear whether it would be enough to deny the party, led by a son of King Sihanouk, a working majority in the Assembly.

First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh's Funcinpec party lost the critical backing of 11 of its members of Parliament that day, to the joy of the rival Cambodian People's Party (CPP) of Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose comrades gleefully distributed a list of defectors. The defection, which Ranariddh later dubbed as a 'coup' and claimed was a plot masterminded by his bete noire, Hun Sen, would reduce the number of seats held by Funcinpec from 58 to 47. The CPP holds 51 seats.

But a couple of days later, in a cat and mouse game, eight of the 11 defectors said they had abandoned their rebellion against Ranariddh and were returning to his party....

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