The battle for control of the Norodom Ranariddh Party continued to rage over the weekend with two factions both stating that they have fired their rivals from all senior party positions.
Regardless of who ultimately takes control, it looks as though the party will have to operate under a different moniker as Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Saturday requested that his name and visage no longer be used by the party.
The NRP—which currently holds two seats in the National Assembly—seemed visibly fractured Friday when about 100 members of the newly re-formed Khmer Front Party took control of the NRP headquarters in Phnom Penh, reportedly in protest over the firing of a Khmer Front member from the NRP board of directors.
In late 2006, the Khmer Front Party offered to change its name to the NRP when Prince Ranariddh was experiencing difficulties getting his new party started from scratch.
In response to Friday’s events, NRP acting President Chhim Seak Leng on Saturday fired NRP Deputy Secretary-General Suth Dina, the party’s Deputy Inspector Sun Sokunmealea and 15 other senior NRP officials affiliated with the Khmer Front faction.
Suth Dina—who was formerly president of the Khmer Front Party—said by telephone Sunday that Chhim Seak Leng had no right to remove these party officials. According to the internal statutes of the party, he said, in the event of a crisis, control reverts back to the Khmer Front Party.
“Chhim Seak Leng’s decision was a fake decision,” Suth Dina said, adding that NRP directors affiliated with the Khmer Front faction voted Saturday to remove Chhim Seak Leng as well as the party’s two lawmakers, You Hockry and Sao Rany.
“We will take the lawmakers’ positions for the students,” Suth Dina said. “Chhim Seak Leng, You Hockry and Sao Rany have become an anarchic group.”
You Hockry said Sunday that only Chhim Seak Leng has the legal right to control the NRP and that the party had decided to dismiss Suth Dina and other officials after they openly supported the Khmer Front Party.
“The NRP is legally recognized by the Ministry of Interior. The Khmer Front Party already died; it is a ghost,” You Hockry said.
“Suth Dina needs to be treated,” he added. “He has no rights to oust me or Chhim Seak Leng.”
Ministry of Interior political affairs Director Lay Voharith said he hasn’t reviewed the NRP’s status yet so he is not sure which of the two factions has the right to control the party.
“There must be a complaint to the ministry before we can resolve the case,” he said.
In the midst of all the infighting, Prince Ranariddh, who is now chief adviser to King Norodom Sihamoni, issued a statement Saturday requesting that the NRP remove his name and portrait from the party logo.
“The leaderships of the Norodom Ranariddh Party has requested of me to use my name and portrait until the district, provincial and municipal councilor election. At first I agreed with the request. However, I have observed that my name and portrait have been indirectly and directly insulted very unjustly, so that I have no choice besides requesting the NRP to stop using my name and portrait immediately from the party’s logo,” the prince wrote.