Influential CPP legislators charged Wednesday that Funcinpec’s accusations of ruling party vote-buying during the February commune council elections could damage the coalition agreement between the two parties.
“We should avoid making discontent with each other in parliament while we are in a coalition,” CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said during a National Assembly session. “[The National Assembly] is not a forum to campaign politically here, so please think it over and stop this activity from now on.”
If royalist lawmakers didn’t stop making claims against the CPP, Cheam Yeap said, Funcinpec would be breaking the coalition agreement signed by the presidents of both parties in 1998.
Cheam Yeap’s call for “harmony” in parliament and the government came one day after Funcinpec National Assembly member Phan Chantha’s allegation that the CPP broke the commune election law by bribing voters during the 24-hour period before voters cast their ballots for commune council members earlier this year.
“[These accusations] are affecting the CPP strongly,” Cheam Yeap said. “Please put the nation’s interests above party interests when debating in parliament.”
Cheam Yeap defended the CPP against the bribery allegations by saying the election results have been accepted worldwide as fair.
“Why is it necessary to bring them up again?” he asked.
Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who is also president of the National Assembly, made a plea Wednesday for calm and reminded lawmakers that they are banned from attacking individuals and parties during specific debates at the National Assembly.
“According to the assembly’s internal rules, the MPs are only allowed to talk about the issue,” the prince said. “I would like to ask you to avoid [hurting] individuals and any parties even if they are with the coalition—we do this to maintain peace.”
Despite the prince’s calls for peace, CPP lawmaker Sar Kapun demanded that Phan Chantha be punished for his accusations against the CPP and called on Prince Ranariddh to stop any further claims by the legislator.
“I appeal to millions of CPP members, especially in Battambang, to condemn Phan Chantha’s attacks against the CPP,” he said Wednesday.
Funcinpec has lately faced a multitude of problems, the most serious being the move to oust co-Minister of Interior and top Funcinpec member You Hockry, who has been accused of corruption and nepotism.
Also, Prince Norodom Chakrapong, the former CPP member who was later exiled after being accused of plotting a coup in the mid-1990s, has recently declared that he will start a second royalist party, sparking fears among Funcinpec officials that the new party could divide Funcinpec and royalist voters. Prince Chakrapong is the half-brother of Prince Ranariddh.
A statement from the Royal Palace Wednesday re-asserted King Norodom Sihanouk’s “100 percent neutrality to all political parties.”