The head of the Khmer Front faction of the Norodom Ranariddh Party has called for a party congress on Feb 15 in an attempt to officially change the name of the NRP to the Khmer Front Party, officials said Monday.
The move by the Khmer Front faction is latest in a power struggle within the NRP that burst to the forefront on Jan 30 when Khmer Front supporters seized control of the NRP headquarters in Phnom Penh.
“The congress will change the Norodom Ranariddh Party to the Khmer Front Party, including its logo. The majority of [party] members have requested me to become the party president,” Khmer Front leader Suth Dina said by telephone.
He added that 2,000 delegates are expected to take part in the congress, which will be held at the NRP headquarters now under Khmer Front control.
Suth Dina said that after the congress the party will officially request that the Interior Ministry delete the NRP as a registered political party and replace it with the Khmer Front Party.
“The NRP was born from the Khmer Front Party,” he said, referring to late 2006 when the Khmer Front Party changed its name to the NRP to assist Prince Norodom Ranariddh in forming his new royalist party.
In response to the Khmer Front’s plans, the established leadership of the NRP has asked the Ministry of Interior to reclaim the party headquarters from the breakaway faction and to prevent the congress from taking place, said NRP Secretary-General You Hockry.
“The Khmer Front Party has illegally taken control of the NRP’s headquarters,” he said. “We want it back.”
He added that leadership of the party still rests with the current leadership, as demonstrated by the participation of the all of the party’s 425 commune councilors in a meeting this weekend to strengthen cooperation with the NRP’s new alliance partner Funcinpec.
Lay Voharith, deputy director of local administration at the Interior Ministry, said on Monday that he had been traveling and has not yet had time to review the claims of party ownership made by both NRP factions, but he anticipates reviewing the documents today.