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U.N. Approves Cambodia Seat

December 7, 1998

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ The U.N. General Assembly gave Cambodia’s seat in the world body to the new coalition government Monday after a 15-month vacancy, but no representative was there to sit in its chair.

Without a vote, the Assembly approved by consensus the Credentials Committee’s decision on Friday to give Cambodia’s seat to the coalition led by Hun Sen.

Cambodia’s seat was left empty after Hun Sen’s July 1997 ouster of co-prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh in a violent coup.

Supporters of both men presented competing claims for the country’s seat after the coup and the Credentials Committee decided in September 1997 to keep the seat vacant.

The panel again deferred a decision in October after Ranariddh and his political allies disputed Hun Sen’s narrow victory in a July election and blocked formation of a new government.

Ranariddh bowed to international pressure last month and struck a coalition deal in which Hun Sen became prime minister and the prince was named president of the National Assembly.

In Phnom Penh, Information Minister Lu Laysreng, a member of Ranariddh’s FUNCINPEC party, said the U.N. recognition will help Cambodia’s drive to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and attract foreign aid suspended after last year’s crisis.

Cambodia has been pushing hard to join ASEAN in time for the regional grouping’s Dec. 15-16 summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.

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