F’pec Leader Denies Report About Losing Hope

Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay denied media reports Wednesday that he had given up hope that the royalist party would be a government partner following this year’s national elections.

In a report broadcast Wednes­day morning, well-known CTN news anchor Soy Sopheap cited a report in Deum Ampil newspaper, of which he is also publisher, as saying the Funcinpec leader was throwing in the towel.

“We may not be able to participate in the government as we have done as a coalition party,” the newspaper quoted Nhiek Bun Chhay as saying.

In an article Wednesday, Ras­mei Kampuchea Daily newspaper also reported that Funcin­pec may prove too weak to form a government with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling CPP in July. Once the most popular party, Funcinpec won a mere 2.4 percent of commune council seats in April’s elections.

“I need a correction from CTN,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said by telephone on Wednesday. Nhiek Bun Chhay added that at Funcin­pec headquarters on Tuesday he had encouraged 200 party faithful to strive for success in the July polls and that he hadn’t given up hope.

“I told participants to work hard because according to the Consti­tu­tion, no party may join the coalition without a National Assembly seat,” he said.

Soy Sopheap said Wednesday that he stood by his broadcast and the newspaper article. He added that he had given Nhiek Bun Chhay an opportunity to reply to his report on Wednesday and that the interview would be aired today.

“It is not a correction,” Soy Sopheap added. “I will allow him to talk about his strategy to win the elections.”

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said Wednesday that, should Funcinpec fail to win a single seat in the Assembly, the CPP could be left with unpalatable choices if it requires a coalition-government partner.

“Without any seats, the CPP has no excuse to allow Funcin­pec to join the government,” he said.


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