Funcinpec To Replace Culture, Tourism Officials

Funcinpec has decided to re­place its Tourism Ministry Secre­tary of State Princess Norodom Rat­tana Devi, daughter of former Fun­cinpec President Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh, as well as the party’s Culture Minister Prince Siso­wath Panara Sirivuddh, officials an­nounced Thursday.

Little-known Prince Sisowath Tesaro will replace Princess Rattana Devi, said Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero, adding that he did not know what the prince’s professional background was.

“We didn’t fire the princess, she asked to resign,” Nouv Sovathero said. Princess Rattana Devi is also a lawmaker in Kratie province, a post she will retain, he said, adding that it was a conflict of interests for the princess to have filled both positions.

Princess Rattana Devi and Prince Panara Sirivuddh were in France Thursday and could not be reached for comment. Prince Tesaro also could not be contacted.

The party’s former Tourism Minis­ter Veng Sereyvuth has replaced Prince Panara Sirivuddh, Funcinpec Vice President Prince Sisowath Sirirath said. The removal was necessary after Prince Panara Sirivuddh became paralyzed nine months ago due to high blood pressure, he said.

“We cannot leave the position vacant, it is not good for the party,” Prince Sirirath said. “The board of directors’ members have chosen Veng Sereyvuth to replace the prince. He is the only qualified person.” Veng Sereyvuth did not answer repeated calls for comment.

Funcinpec will request that Prime Minister Hun Sen approve the changes, Prince Sirirath said. The National Assembly also must ap­prove the replacements before they become official. “If there is a request to reshuffle, the government will reshuffle for them,” Government spokesman and Information Minis­ter Khieu Kanharith said.

“The reshuffle would affect the party’s popularity because Funcin­pec is famous for its royal family members,” chief monitor for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, Mar Sophal said.

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