Parliamentarian Keo Remy warned on Monday that he and several senior Funcinpec officials will announce today whether they will defect to the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, completely resign from politics or continue to support Funcinpec.
The outspoken royalist lawmaker, who has clashed publicly several times with Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh in the last year, said he will hold a news conference today at the National Assembly to make his “political decision” clear to the public.
Keo Remy, who was threatened with expulsion and severely reprimanded by Funcinpec for criticizing the prince’s leadership, has long been tipped as a candidate for defection. “Frankly speaking, I did not get along well with Prince Norodom Ranariddh for over one year because I am not the lawmaker who just follows the boss blindly,” Keo Remy said.
Keo Remy said he and six other royalist officials would choose between joining Sam Rainsy, leaving politics or staying with Prince Ranariddh. Keo Remy said he still respects Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh—the half-brother of King Norodom Sihanouk.
A senior Funcinpec official on Monday downplayed Keo Remy’s possible defection, saying he is not a popular member of the party and will not take many royalist votes to the opposition.
The official also claimed that three Sam Rainsy parliamentarians soon will defect to Funcinpec.
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Tioulong Saumura declined to comment on Keo Remy or possible opposition defections to the royalist party. The defection last week of Ahmad Yahya, former Funcinpec secretary of state, marked the fifth senior royalist to shift allegiance ahead of the July 27 general election.