F’pec To Tap RCAF Official for Interior Post

Funcinpec is poised to nominate a former top military commander in the 1997 factional fighting as its candidate to replace co-Minister of Interior You Hockry, a high-ranking Funcinpec source said Monday. 

The office of Funcinpec Secre­tary-General Prince Norodom Sir­i­vudh forwarded the nomination of General Khan Savoeun to party President Prince Norodom Ra­na­riddh on Sunday, the source said.

If Prince Ranariddh approves the choice, procedure dictates that the nomination be sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen. If Hun Sen approves, then Khan Sa­voeun would require a two-thirds majority vote of the National As­sembly to take the position—considered key in the coalition government.

It would be a controversial choice. Khan Savoeun, who is now RCAF deputy commander-in-chief, was second in command of Funcinpec forces below Nhiek Bun Chhay during the factional fighting of 1997 and 1998. He led troops against Hun Sen’s armed forces along the Thai border in the northwest.

“We don’t know if CPP parliamentarians will vote for him or not,” the source said, adding that Khan Savoeun’s appointment is nonetheless ne­ce­ssary to boost the flagging royalists.

“We are satisfied with Khan Savoeun as a candidate because he is firm and strict in his command,” added one Funcinpec law­maker on condition of ano­nymity. “He’s the one who can make us popular again with the former resistance fighters through­out Cambodia in the general elections of 2003.”

The nomination seems to support Funcinpec members who have lobbied for the party to take a more adversarial approach with the CPP in the wake of the party’s poor performance in the Feb­ru­ary commune elections.

Many of these members pushed for You Hockry’s ouster. Since then, two royalists have an­nounced they are forming parties of their own in advance of next year’s general elections.

Prince Sirivudh previously sent Prince Ranariddh a list of four candidates, not including Khan Savoeun, the source said. But Prince Ranariddh sent it back, asking him to nominate only one person.

That list included Por Bun Sroeu, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Defense; Khek Van­dy, a Na­tion­al Assembly member; Than Sina, a deputy governor of Phnom Penh municipality; and Kieng Vang, a secretary of state at the Interior Ministry.

The prince said last month that he hoped to have a new co-minister nominated by the close of the assembly’s current session, some­time in July.

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