The National Assembly on Tuesday voted to appoint Funcinpec’s new President Keo Puth Rasmey as a deputy prime minister, and named Princess Marie, wife of Prince Norodom Ranariddh, as a senior minister.
Prior to the vote, Prime Minister Hun Sen told the Assembly that the appointments would strengthen the relationship between the CPP and Funcinpec, after the royalist party voted on Oct 18 to oust longtime president Prince Ranariddh.
“There must be a coordination process toward an alliance for sustainable development,” Hun Sen told the Assembly. The first and highest priority for both parties, Hun Sen added, is the interest of the people.
Of the National Assembly’s 105 lawmakers, 83 voted in favor of the new appointments, 11 voted against, and three abstained. Eight votes were spoiled.
Keo Puth Rasmey said that as deputy prime minister, he will be in charge of women’s and religious affairs and fine arts. His priority, however, will be to visit supporters in the provinces. “I am proud not only that the [Funcinpec] party’s congress recognized me but now the National Assembly also recognizes me,” he said.
Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said that Keo Puth Rasmey has already suspended Prince Ranariddh’s four advisers: Serei Kosal, Ok Socheat, Sao Rany and Mam Bun Neang—all of whom opposed the appointments.
“The party temporarily removed them. If they correct themselves [by agreeing to the new leadership] they can be accepted,” Nouv Sovathero said.
Serei Kosal said that members of the new leadership are “traitors” to Funcinpec. Ok Socheat said that Keo Puth Rasmey was appointed because he was very easily manipulated by Hun Sen. “The party is not independent. [Keo Puth Rasmey] is being controlled by Prime Minister Hun Sen,” he said.
Princess Marie did not attend the Assembly meeting and was not available for comment.