The Funcinpec party issued a statement Wednesday denying claims by Information Minister Khieu Kanharith that its president is planning to dissolve the coalition government.
Funcinpec also said that Khieu Kanharith was wrong when he reported in a Wednesday radio interview that Prince Norodom Ranariddh had abused the coalition agreement between the embattled Funcinpec and the ruling CPP.
“Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh doesn’t intend to dissolve the government,” Funcinpec said in the statement. “Funcinpec have goodwill in keeping the cooperation between the CPP and Funcinpec, and especially the good relations between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prince Norodom Ranariddh.”
Although Funcinpec’s reputation has suffered in recent months, the party will continue to cooperate with the CPP for the sake of national stability, the party added.
Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment.
Prince Ranariddh on Tuesday urged the CPP to treat Funcinpec with more respect. He also called for the party’s congress to decide whether he should be replaced as party president, as Hun Sen called for earlier this month.
“The CPP has Hun Sen, the Sam Rainsy Party has Sam Rainsy. Without Ranariddh, who will represent Funcinpec?” the prince asked in a speech made in Pursat province and broadcast on Funcinpec’s Ta Prohm radio.
Prince Ranariddh also said that Funcinpec Minister of Rural Development Lu Laysreng should quit the party.
“He said he could not accept me anymore, but he hasn’t left us yet,” the prince said. “It is better that he leaves.”
Lu Laysreng, who claimed at a press conference last month that Prince Ranariddh was solely responsible for Funcinpec’s steep decline in recent years, could not be reached for comment.
Ok Socheat, Prince Ranariddh’s public affairs adviser, said the prince has also heard reports that the party Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay had asked Princess Marie Ranariddh to replace her husband as party president.
Nhiek Bun Chhay denied the allegation, and said his enemies within the party are concocting false rumors to undermine him. But he also said that Lu Laysreng should stay in the party and that some Funcinpec officials have been trying to quit the government.
“The CPP has never used me,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said. “I don’t betray the party,” he said, adding that it was time for royalist officials to stop bickering, roll up their sleeves and look to the future.
“We must unite to work,” he said.