Hun Sen Discredits Ministry Reshuffle Rumors

Prime Minister Hun Sen told re­porters Monday at the Council of Ministers there were no plans to reshuffle his cabinet but that he would respect Prince Norodom Rana­riddh’s wishes to change some ministers.

Hun Sen also said that Prince Ranariddh had never discussed any large-scale reshuffle with him or with other CPP officials, even though the prince has made comments about such a reshuffle in a speech and to the media.

“I will let them work until they finish their terms,” the premier said of his CPP officials. “The rumors of a reshuffle are not true.”

Prince Ranariddh has asserted on several recent occasions that some ministers would soon be changed. He has not said which ministries might be targeted. At a speech to party loyalists at Funcinpec headquarters last week, he said a re­shuffle was imminent.

Hun Sen also blasted the media for spreading rumors of a reshuffle, saying misleading reports were damaging party morale.

“Don’t report things that destabilize the spirit of government members,” he said, although he also claimed CPP members were not “rabbits that are easily scared when someone cries wolf.”

Hun Sen said, however, that he re­spects the prince’s suggestions and would consider some changes if his coalition partner asked.

“I will respect Samdech Krom Preah’s opinion,” he said of Prince Ranariddh.

He also touted the strength of the CPP-Funcinpec coalition, suggesting the two parties would capture at least two-thirds of the 2008 general election votes. He said he did not believe Funcinpec’s support base was shrinking, as the last two general elections have shown.

“I don’t think Funcinpec popularity will slip further,” he said.

Ung Bun-Ang, spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party, questioned why the premier felt the need to make such an assertion.

“They already have two-thirds [of the Assembly seats],” he said.

If Funcinpec’s decline continues to the 2008 election,  some political observers note that the CPP, even with a royalist coalition, could lose its ability to reach the two-thirds majority in the Assembly required to form a government.

(Additional reporting by Michael Cowden)


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