F’pec Still Undecided on City Governorship

Nearly one year after the coalition government was formed, the Funcinpec post of Phnom Penh governor remains open, leaving some critics wondering if it ever will be filled.

According to Funcinpec Secretary-General Tol Lah, the party has assembled six candidates, put them through the proper screening process and submitted the list to Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh for final selection.

“The decision is long overdue,” acknowledged Tol Lah, whose party reportedly is looking to reunite with splinter groups and recruit new members. “But we have to prevent anything that will cause any division and favoritism in the party.”

Tol Lah said the candidates include: Than Sina, secretary of state for the Ministry of Interior; Khek Vandy, husband of Prin­cess Norodom Bopha Devi and a lawmaker from Takeo province; General Por Bun Sreu, secretary of state for the Ministry of Defense; Khau Menghean, secretary of state for the Ministry of National Assembly Relations and Inspections; Chhoeng Cham­roeun, secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Long Sarin, a member of the National Assembly.

Other sources close to the party said the prince also is looking to Sun Chanthol, former secretary of state for the Ministry of Finance who now works in private business in Bangkok.

Amid the delay and apparent confusion, some party members have grown exasperated.

“I consider this a dead issue now—one that will never get resolved,” said Minister of Information and party official Lu Laysreng.

Some critics have suggested the current first deputy governor of Phnom Penh, CPP member Chea Sophara, has influenced the deliberations over who potentially would be his boss.

Chea Sophara denied the charges on Monday, but said the office is running smoothly with him at the helm.

“There is a lot of work to be done in this city, and I am getting it done,” he said.

Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy, however, said Funcinpec owes the citizens of Phnom Penh a governor.

“Phnom Penh needs to be handled properly, to be managed as a true capital city, to attract investment,” he said. “It sends a very bad message when Funcinpec cannot make up its mind on who should run this city.”

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