More Factional Tensions Clearly Visible Within Funcinpec Party

Nhiek Bun Chhay, second vice president of the royalist Funcinpec party, held a press conference on Friday at his home in Phnom Penh to rail against the party’s president, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, for making decisions without consultation since returning to lead the party in January.

For more than an hour, Mr. Bun Chhay—who engineered the ouster of the prince from Funcinpec in 2006—aired grievances including decisions by Prince Ranariddh to change the party’s logo and remove old Funcinpec banners from their current locations. 

“Most people did not want Samdech Krom Preah to change the party’s logo…they also did not want to drop the old banner of the Funcinpec party,” Mr. Bun Chhay said, using Prince Ranariddh’s official royal title.

The party’s logo, he pointed out, was not to blame for the party’s electoral woes at the 2013 national election.

“I understand this because this logo has been known by the public and foreigners since a long time ago,” he said, adding that the party seemed to be returning to the sort of factionalism that led to it winning no National Assembly seats in the 2013 election.

Mr. Bun Chhay said that 24 people had been appointed this year to Funcinpec’s general secretariat, all of whom were Prince Ranariddh loyalists, rather than coming from the party’s membership base.

“If we cannot unite with each other, we cannot hope that we will get any seats. But if we can unite with each other, we can hope that we will get some seats,” Mr. Bun Chhay said.

Prince Ranariddh returned to the presidency of the struggling Fun­cinpec party, which he led to victory in the 1993 U.N.-run election, last month in a purported attempt at “national reconciliation” of the country’s royalists.

Despite Mr. Bun Chhay’s behind-the-scenes plotting to topple the prince a decade ago, the rivals insisted no bad blood remained until a petty power struggle over who is authorized to issue official Funcinpec letters broke out last week.

Funcinpec secretary-general Say Hak, an ally of Prince Ranariddh, declined to comment on Mr. Bun Chhay’s latest claims, referring questions to the party’s new spokesman, Nhep Bunchin, who could not be reached.

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