In an attempt to appease ousted Funcinpec governors and deputy governors outraged by their removal, the royalist party is looking to create new jobs in what critics have charged is an already bloated government, the party’s spokesman said Sunday.
Funcinpec spokesman Tuot Lux said the party is establishing a committee to resolve the complaints of 19 former governors and deputy governors who claim they were wrongly replaced earlier this month.
“The committee will consider the possibilities to provide them jobs,” Tuot Lux said. He did not elaborate on what new positions were being discussed.
Since Funcinpec and the CPP agreed to a deadlock-breaking deal to form a coalition government in July, Cambodia’s Cabinet has swelled to at least 146 undersecretaries of state, 135 secretaries of state, 28 ministers,
15 senior ministers and seven deputy prime ministers—making it one of the largest Cabinets in the world.
Tuot Lux said the party was waiting for the return of its president Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who is in France on a personal trip, before making a final decision on the handling of its disgruntled members. The date of Prince Ranariddh’s return has not yet been determined, he said.
More than 20 governors and deputy governors were replaced by the party this month in a long-awaited announcement of new governorship appointments for the third government mandate.
The appointments have spurred a bitter power struggle within the party, with some dissatisfied members claiming corruption among the party’s ranks.
Nineteen of the replaced governors and deputy governors signed a petition to Prince Ranariddh last week urging him to fire royalist Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh, the half-brother of retired King Norodom Sihanouk and co-Minister of Interior, whom they claimed was responsible for the shuffle. They are also seeking the removal of Kong Hun Thearith, secretary of state to the Interior Ministry and a known close ally of Prince Sirivudh.
Repeated calls to both Prince Sirivudh and Kong Hun Thearith were unsuccessful Sunday.
Outgoing Kandal Provincial Governor Tep Nannory, who helped organize the petition, charged that the two senior party members were crippling Funcinpec.
“Both of them are corrupt. They are leading Funcinpec to its elimination,” Tep Nannory said Sunday.
Former Battambang provincial deputy governor Prack Doeun said he and others had initially refrained from protesting after the new appointments were announced because they believed the party would offer them new positions.
Funcinpec had appointed inexperienced replacements, who could further diminish the royalists’ popularity with voters, he added.
“The party replaced us with inexperienced and incapable officials, so I do not support the replacements,” he said. “We are very disappointed because when the new members are not qualified, they will weaken the party.”
Funcinpec experienced a sharp drop in voter popularity during the 2003 national election, when it lost 17 seats in the National Assembly.