Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the newly elected president of the royalist Funcinpec party, and Nhiek Bun Chhay, its new second vice president, continued to spar Tuesday over the validity of former Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Say Hak’s appointment as the party’s secretary-general.
The pair were involved in a public squabble over the weekend about who can issue official Funcinpec letters, with Mr. Hak—an ally of the prince—and Mr. Bun Chhay both claiming that each other’s statements with the party letterhead are not official party documents.
Mr. Bun Chhay had said Mr. Hak is not in fact Funcinpec’s secretary-general, while Mr. Hak said Mr. Bun Chhay could not release statements without the signature of the prince.
On Tuesday, the party’s secretariat general released a statement reaffirming Mr. Hak’s appointment and scolding Mr. Bun Chhay and Princess Norodom Arunrasmey, the first vice president, for interfering with Prince Ranariddh’s appointment of the former governor.
“There are some Funcinpec leaders and members who have criticized Norodom Ranariddh, president of Funcinpec, for appointing Say Hak as executive secretary-general of Funcinpec,” reads the letter, stamped by the party’s secretariat general.
“In a meeting on February 22, 2015…Norodom Ranariddh, president of Funcinpec, called on Princess Norodom Arunrasmey and Nhiek Bun Chhay to completely stop doing actions that oppose, and return to a united force with the prince in order to strengthen Funcinpec,” it continues.
However, Mr. Bun Chhay, who engineered the ouster of the prince as the royalist party’s leader in 2006 and served as its secretary-general before the prince’s return as president last month, on Tuesday reiterated that Mr. Hak’s appointment is invalid.
“It has to be taken for election at the National Council, and therefore it is not legitimate,” Mr. Bun Chhay said.
“Say Hak has not become a Funcinpec member yet. Second, according to the internal regulations of Funcinpec…it states clearly that the National Council appoints the secretary-general, and Norodom Ranariddh cannot assign appointments,” he said.
“This is a controversial issue, and merging together cannot happen, to speak clearly,” Mr. Bun Chhay said.
Prince Ranariddh could not be reached Tuesday.
Funcinpec last month announced its “national reconciliation,” with Prince Ranariddh dissolving his personal royalist party into Funcinpec and returning as its leader.