Keo Remy To Withdraw From F’pec

Outspoken Funcinpec parliamentarian Keo Remy said on Thursday he will not stand in next year’s national elections and intends to leave the royalist party when his term in office ends.

Funcinpec Senator Nhiek Bun Chhay, one of the party’s most popular figures, also said he will not stand for election, but he said his decision does not mean he intends to quit the embattled party.

Keo Remy’s announcement follows last month’s shocking resignation of Funcinpec Senator Khem Sokha and will add fuel to speculation that several party members intend to leave Funcin­pec ahead of general elections in July.

“I will not stand as a Funcinpec candidate in the 2003 election, and I will let my party membership finish along with my parliamentary mandate,” Keo Remy said by telephone.

Keo Remy cited his disappointment at being dropped as a top Funcinpec candidate for next year’s elections and the party’s weakness since joining a coalition government with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling CPP as factors in his decision.

Keo Remy’s criticism of his party has recently brought him into direct conflict with party leader Prince Norodom Rana­riddh, who has been struggling to mend ongoing splits within his ranks.

Blasting Funcinpec parliamentarians who follow the CPP line in the National Assembly, Keo Remy said, “They dare not de­bate or discuss. So what is the point of a coalition?”

“I felt like I was in the wrong place,” Keo Remy said. He de­nied claims he may join the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

Expressing his regret at Keo Remy’s decision, Nhiek Bun Chhay, first vice-president of the Senate and Funcinpec deputy secretary-general, said he too will not run in next year’s election.

“I do not want to be a member of parliament. This does not mean I am leaving Funcinpec. I will still work as a senator until the end of my term,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said.

However, Nhiek Bun Chhay was noncommittal on his plans after his term in the Senate expires.

Considered one of the most popular members of the royalist party, Nhiek Bun Chhay was tipped as a Funcinpec candidate for Battambang province.

He commands a solid following in the northwest, where in the 1980s he led royalist resistance troops against the Hanoi-backed government in Phnom Penh.

Funcinpec Spokesman Kol Pheng said Keo Remy’s resignation was not unexpected and his departure would not affect the party.

“This is no surprise. Funcinpec is not worried about those who want to leave, because the members who leave always return back,” Kol Pheng said.

But Funcinpec parliamentarian Princess Norodom Vacheara lamented Keo Remy’s departure from the party and praised his outspokenness in the National Assembly.

“I feel sorry at the loss of the very good party member and parliamentarian,” the princess said.


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