Prime Minister Hun Sen announced Thursday that his ruling CPP would no longer accept defectors from Funcinpec before the national election because there was still hope of renewing the CPP-Funcinpec coalition partnership in the next mandate.
“Please, Funcinpec, do not defect because we could stay together” after the election, Hun Sen said. “If you defect, I will tell you to return.”
Speaking at a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education, the prime minister said further defections could create problems with the National Election Committee’s candidate list.
He said he never pushed Funcinpec officials, such as Minister of Education Kol Pheng and Minister of Health Nuth Sokhom, to defect in order to keep their positions.
On Wednesday, Hun Sen said that Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, who had defected from Funcinpec to the CPP in January, would keep her post after the election, but warned that other Funcinpec ministers were not assured of their positions.
Funcinpec Second Deputy President Prince Sisowath Sirirath said the prime minister’s decision to not accept further defections would help stabilize his party.
“It is good to show that Funcinpec is not the puppet party,” he said, adding that he is not concerned about his party’s future.
“Funcinpec cannot die…. It was established by the retired King” Norodom Sihanouk, he said.
Hun Sen again lashed out against the SRP during his NIE speech Thursday, saying that the opposition party had damaged the country.
“Until now, all achievements here, there is no participation from the opposition party—they helped to destroy,” Hun Sen claimed.
“They asked foreigners to block aid. They do not even [build] a toilet,” he said.
The premier also claimed that the SRP was infuriated by poll data released Tuesday by the International Republican Institute.
According to that IRI survey, 77 percent of Cambodians believe the country is headed in the right direction.
“[SRP] stopped believing in IRI. They take IRI as their enemies,” Hun Sen said, adding that the positive poll results did not mean CPP officials could rest on their laurels.
“The CPP must work hard regardless of the IRI’s survey—we must fix weaknesses,” he said.
SRP President Sam Rainsy on Thursday denied that his party felt any animosity towards the IRI, but added that the poll results were not an accurate reflection of public opinion.
“The survey does not represent all the people. People do not like the CPP,” Sam Rainsy said. “People felt intimidated because they are afraid of the people who [conducted the] survey,” he said.
Sam Rainsy added that the SRP doesn’t have the power to “damage” the country, and that it was the duty of the government to build the country.
“The government’s duty must be to build the infrastructure because the government has money from the people and donors,” Sam Rainsy said, adding that the CPP has essentially made the party and the government a single entity.
“There must be a separation from the party and the government,” he said.
“The government and the party have different jobs.”