Funcinpec Shakes Up Ministries

Quietly chastised for Fun­cin­pec’s ongoing slide in popularity, a cluster of longtime royalist ministers have been reassigned roles overseeing various authorities and committees in the next gov­ern­ment’s Council of Minis­ters.

The move is seen as a strategy by party President Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh to appease the ministers, who make up a significant power base within Funcinpec, while carrying out the inner-party reform he has pledged since last year’s elections.

The former ministers have been rechristened “senior ministers” with no control over specific minis­tries but instead will take the reins of Council of Ministers bodies, such as the National AIDS Author­ity, National Tourism Authority and National Disaster Manage­ment Authority.

Seven of the 15 senior ministers appointed last week are from Fun­cin­pec. They include former co-minister of interior You Hokry, for­mer health minister Hong Sun Huot, former tourism minister Veng Sereyvuth, former public works minister Khy Taing Lim, former minister of parliamentary relations and inspection Khun Haing, senator Serey Kosal and education minister Kol Pheng.

Several of those ministers have faced private and public criticism from other factions of Funcinpec for kowtowing to the CPP.

Prince Ranariddh, wary of the officials’ party clout, relegated the ministers to their new positions to “keep everybody happy,” one Fun­cinpec official said Sunday.

“Look at their responsibility, it’s less than what they had. But they’re happy to keep a title and pos­ition,” the official said.

Juggling ministers was considered a major task for Prince Ran­ariddh in keeping party unity while promoting a younger cadre of royalists represented by party Sec­retary-General Prince Noro­dom Siri­vudh, who has replaced You Hok­ry at the Interior Ministry.

But conspicuously absent from the royalists’ new portfolio is Mu Sochua, the former minister of Wo­men’s Affairs, who is viewed as one of the party’s strongest refor­mers. Mu Sochua has no seat in the National Assembly, either.

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