Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Muth Channtha and Prince Ranariddh’s adviser Ok Socheat have clashed over which of them has the right to speak on the fledgling party’s behalf.
Muth Channtha on Tuesday accused Ok Socheat of sending out false information by telling a radio station last week that the NRP wants to reach a compromise in its bitter relationship with Funcinpec. Contacted by telephone, Ok Socheat described Muth Channtha as “arrogant” adding: “He does not respect senior officials.”
The NRP is “working to fix the party’s structure by forming an information committee to control Muth Channtha,” Ok Socheat said.
Muth Channtha countered that Ok Socheat has abused the party’s principles and the NRP wants no compromise with Funcinpec.
Muth Channtha, who reiterated that he is the party’s sole spokesman, is a recent addition to the Prince Ranariddh camp and previously worked for the US-based National Democratic Institute.
Ok Socheat is a long-time Prince Ranariddh stalwart who previously served as the prince’s adviser while he was Funcinpec president.
Muth Channtha said the NRP has made a break from its Funcinpec roots and that he should not be viewed as a junior NRP member by Funcinpec’s old guard.
“The party is not the one from the [Thai] border,” Muth Channtha said. “It is a new party.”
NRP Acting President Chhim Seak Leng said there is no point in NRP officials hurling mud at each other. Party members are free to express their points of view as long as they do not go against the party’s official policy, he said.
However, Chhim Seak Leng added that he will instruct all NRP officials not to discuss the party’s internal problems with the press.
“I will inform them not to speak to journalists because sometimes the newspapers make wrong interpretations,” he said.
Mar Sophal, monitoring chief at the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said the NRP is sending out confusing messages about its political direction and who is ultimately in charge.
“There is no unity. There are fractures,” he said, adding that it is not clear who inside the NRP is responsible for making decisions.