Already ailing from a series of high-profile defections, Funcinpec has now lost its own party spokesman, Nouv Sovathero, who confirmed Tuesday that he had left the struggling royalist party and plans to join the ruling CPP.
“I left the party,” said Nouv Sovathero, who is also a secretary of state at the Ministry of Information. He added that he had submitted his letter of resignation to Funcinpec on Thursday.
“Being human, everyone wants to develop oneself,” he offered as an explanation for his resignation, but declined to elaborate.
He added that his defection to the CPP was not yet official.
“I have crossed the road to the other side—I’m only awaiting official acceptance,” he said, adding that it would be up to the CPP to decide what position he would serve in the government.
Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay said Tuesday that he had received Nouv Sovathero’s resignation, but did not know why he quit the party.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said that the CPP considered Nouv Sovathero a welcome addition to the party and that he would retain his secretary of state position, as Funcinpec had not sought his removal.
“We haven’t received a request from [Funcinpec],” he said.
Lu Laysreng, minister of rural development and Funcinpec’s first deputy president, said that his party was too busy with the upcoming election to request that Nouv Sovathero’s position be given to another Funcinpec member.
“I think we won’t care about his position because there are only six months until the election,” he said.
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said the loss of Nouv Sovathero would not have much of an impact on Funcinpec’s performance in the forthcoming election.
“Voters have experience with this policy of defections by politicians,” he added.
(Additional reporting by James Welsh)