Despite being coalition partners, the CPP has been very publicly announcing the supposed defection of thousands of Funcinpec supporters to the ruling party.
Officials said Tuesday that 600 Funcinpec members joined the CPP during a ceremony Friday in Pursat town presided over by CPP Provincial Governor Chhay Sareth and National Committee for Disaster Management Second Vice President Ly Thuch—himself a recent defector from the royalist party.
“They wanted to participate in a constructive movement,” Ly Thuch said of the defectors. “They left Funcinpec because of the split within the party.”
Funcinpec fractured following a party congress in 2006 that saw the ouster of then-party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who went on to form the Norodom Ranariddh Party.
Cheam Yeap, CPP lawmaker for Prey Veng, said that he had seen 3,000 Funcinpec members defect to the CPP in his province alone since October.
He added that Funcinpec had discouraged its members by lacking any real leadership. “Funcinpec’s car has no driver,” he said.
CPP National Assembly Deputy President Nguon Nhel said that 400 to 500 Funcinpec supporters have joined the CPP in each of the country’s provinces.
“The CPP does not convince them to join with the CPP, but the party has a rule to accept defectors,” he said. “The CPP wants Funcinpec to strengthen itself so it can be a strong political partner.”
Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero declined to comment on whether he believed it appropriate for the CPP to publicly tout these defections, dismissing it as “psychological warfare.”
“Funcinpec is not interested in it,” he said.
Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said the SRP and NRP are siphoning off Funcinpec members as well.
“[Funcinpec’s rivals] are having a good chance to convince [Funcinpec] members to join other political parties,” he said.