At its party congress on Saturday, Funcinpec reorganized its leadership, leaving the organization with three co-leaders.
Speaking at a news conference yesterday, Keo Puth Rasmey, former president of Funcinpec, said that on Saturday the congress had named him “great leader,” while former Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay was named executive president and former First Vice President Lu Laysreng was named honorary president. The 3,000-member congress, representing the 30,000 members nationwide, gave the leadership a five-year mandate.
The new party leadership echoes that of the CPP, which has long been spearheaded by a triumvirate: party President Chea Sim, honorary President Heng Samrin and Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Funcinpec, which is seeking to support the ruling CPP, was founded as a movement in 1981 by retired King Norodom Sihanouk to oppose the political order from which the CPP emerged. After the 1993 elections, former party President Prince Norodom Ranariddh served as co-prime minister until his ouster in 1997 clashes with Mr Hun Sen. The party reached a low point after the 2008 legislative elections, when it only managed to win two seats.
Mr Puth Rasmey said it was important to remember its roots.
“If Funcinpec defends the country and the Cambodian people, then the Cambodian people will support Funcinpec. And if Funcinpec leaders …respect the party’s rules, it will return to the previous history of Funcinpec,” he said, adding that party leaders using their position for personal benefit at the expense of the party was one of the reasons for the new power structure.
The party will continue to work with the ruling party, he said.
Mr Puth Rasmey brushed aside recent media reports suggesting internal problems related to the democratic approach to choosing its leadership. “According to our previous experiences, we accepted that the huge reason Funcinpec popularity fell is the personal political vision of Funcinpec leaders,” something this new power structure should help to avoid, he said.