Several Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers came out in support of General Khan Savoeun as the likely candidate to replace co-Minister of Interior You Hockry, while CPP parliamentarians said they would wait for direction from their party leadership.
“I really like him, and support him, because he has the courage to solve problems, and his stances are clear,” said Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay.
Son Chhay praised Khan Savoeun for his command of Funcinpec forces during the 1997-98 factional fighting, but said his opinions were based on more than Khan Savoeun’s military skills.
“He is a man of principle,” he said.
“I would give him my vote because he is someone who struggles for the nation, and he is firm in his work,” said Lon Phon, another Sam Rainsy parliamentarian.
Speaking only for himself, and not for the party that carries his name, Sam Rainsy said he respects and supports Khan Savoeun.
“His idea is for the nation. And he is the one who struggled in the resistance. But as a party, we need to discuss what the party should do,” the opposition leader said.
On Sunday the office of Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh forwarded the general’s name to party President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, high-ranking royalist sources say. Ranariddh has yet to formally approve the nomination.
Khan Savoeun, now RCAF deputy commander-in-chief, was second in command of Funcinpec forces under Nhiek Bun Chhay during the factional fighting.
CPP National Assembly member Chea Soth said he had not yet decided on his vote. “We do not know who is officially selected from the Funcinpec party. I will follow the party’s principle. We do not decide what to do until we have agreement in the party, and the party has not yet called on us to discuss the matter,” he said.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the nomination must pass by a two-thirds vote in the assembly, which means the two parties “must work together on this issue.
“Prince Ranariddh must explain to the CPP [about Khan Savoeun]. If he does so, he will succeed. I know he is a military commander, and that he is strong and influential. But we also need to know if he is educated,” he said.
Funcinpec parliamentarian Khin Yean said Khan Savoeun had the most support of any candidate among party members.
The CPP should support Khan Savoeun, he said, because the 1998 coalition agreement between the parties states that they must not interfere with each other’s appointments.