Funcinpec could still be declared ineligible for upcoming elections if the Ministry of Interior were to withdraw its stamp of approval, the secretary-general of the National Election Committee said Saturday.
Under questioning at the NEC’s weekly press conference, Im Suorsdei said that Funcinpec has met all the requirements to participate in the elections and has been approved by the NEC.
But he did not rule out pulling Funcinpec from the ballot later if the Ministry of Interior were to withdraw approval on grounds that Funcinpec still has its own army, which is forbidden by the political parties law.
“If that problem arises, we will leave the [Funcinpec] name out,” Im Suorsdei said.
Repeated failure to start talks aimed at reintegrating resistance forces loyal to deposed first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh into RCAF has fueled speculation that Funcinpec might be banned from the election at the last minute on grounds that the party has its own army.
Reintegration is considered the last step to ensuring that Prince Ranariddh can participate in the upcoming elections. The prince was ousted when RCAF forces loyal to him were driven from Phnom Penh by CPP-loyal troops last July. Both sides are now observing an uneasy cease-fire pending reintegration.
While Im Suorsdei did not rule out pulling Funcinpec from the elections ballot, a legal expert in Phnom Penh said Sunday that such a move would not be legally sound. Funcinpec has already been declared a legal party by the Ministry of Interior under the political parties law and has been registered for the elections by the NEC under the elections law, the expert said.
“They are already registered. That’s it,” the legal expert said. “There’s no legal basis for that registration to be rescinded.”
And Im Suorsdei stressed Saturday that he has heard of no complaints so far from the Interior Ministry about Funcinpec’s remaining troops near the Thai border.