Funcinpec ministers and secretaries of state have tentatively agreed to resign from the government in a refusal to continue their coalition with the CPP, a high-level member of the party’s steering committee said on Thursday.
“Ministers from Funcinpec all signed resignations from the current government. All of them,” said the official, who declined to be named. The official said the signatures were secured on Wednesday.
Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua confirmed the plan but stressed it was unofficial. She declined further comment on the subject.
The unnamed official said Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh had requested the plan of resignation from the party’s Cabinet members to protest CPP Prime Minister Hun Sen’s vow to stay in power.
She said the proposal was only one of “two or three other formulas” the party was working on to navigate a potential political deadlock.
National Election Committee preliminary results show Funcinpec has won 26 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly. The opposition Sam Rainsy Party has 24 seats, while the ruling CPP party is leading with 73 seats. That falls short of the seats CPP would need to form a government on its own.
Earlier this week, Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party leaders said they will not enter a coalition government with Hun Sen.
Hun Sen, however, has said he will stay on as prime minister, regardless of whether a coalition government is established. Under the Constitution, the current Royal Government will remain responsible for routine business until a new government can be appointed.
It is unclear how the current government’s operations would be affected if the Funcinpec ministers and secretaries of state were to resign.
While Monh Saphann, Funcinpec chairman of the National Assembly Legislation Commission, said he was not aware of the details of the resignation proposal, he said it could send a clear message to the prime minister.
“If the resignations happen, it would be useful because we want to show our displeasure,” Monh Saphann said.
After a meeting at the Council of Ministers on Thursday, Hun Sen said he will hold a Cabinet meeting next Friday, which requires the attendance of all ministers. He said he would order the seizure of all government vehicles and belongings from any absent non-CPP officials and would postpone their salaries.
“If they do not join the meeting it means they give up their work. If so, I, prime minister, will be forced to carry out the law to make the Cabinet go ahead. [Using] the civil servant statute, we will collect and force them to sign and hand over all property, money and inventories,” he said.
According to the Constitution, the Assembly would require a two-thirds majority vote before it can dismiss any member of the government.
Some Funcinpec members said they will wait for instructions from the party president about whether to sit in next week’s Cabinet meeting. But others responded to Hun Sen’s statement with outrage and called for Funcinpec ministers to refuse to attend.
“For me, it’s a violation of human rights already what he has said,” said Oum Chenda, Funcinpec undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
Meanwhile, top Funcinpec representatives met with Prince Ranariddh at his residence in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district to discuss the outcome of the election.
The party issued a statement denying earlier claims from its members that Funcinpec was considering launching demonstrations against the election results.
However, the party did not state its official position on a proposal for a new government put forth by the Sam Rainsy Party, which would replace Hun Sen with CPP President Chea Sim as prime minister. The plan would demote Hun Sen to the president of the Assembly and appoint Prince Ranariddh as the president of the Senate. It would also make Sam Rainsy the deputy prime minister.
Funcinpec Deputy Secretary-General Ok Socheat said the joint committee between Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party would discuss the proposal Thursday night.
But, he said he would like to see Chea Sim become prime minister.
He added: “We would like to form a coalition with three parties.”
(Additional reporting by Kevin Doyle, Thet Sambath and Nhem Chea Bunly)