Senior Funcinpec officials Sunday dismissed rumors that Prince Norodom Ranariddh may be replaced as Funcinpec president by his wife Princess Marie.
Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay said that Prince Ranariddh will remain president, and that he is in charge of the party while the prince is abroad.
Prince Ranariddh’s spokesman Chea Chanboribo said the prince cannot be replaced, as Funcinpec’s internal rules state that he will be president for life.
“The Funcinpec party’s statute and internal regulations do not state so,” he said of the rumored transfer of power.
Pro-Sam Rainsy Party Web site Khmer Intelligence issued a report Saturday, which it claimed was “very reliable,” stating that Prince Ranariddh was being pressured to step down by dissident Funcinpec officials led by Nhiek Bun Chhay. After resigning “in the very near future,” Prince Ranariddh will be replaced by Princess Marie, the Web site claimed.
Princess Marie could not be reached for comment.
Prince Ranariddh’s public affairs adviser Ok Socheat accused the SRP of using Khmer Intelligence to try to sabotage Funcinpec. “It’s not true, Rainsy tries to weaken Funcinpec,” he said.
Ok Socheat added he was unsure whether the prince would be returning Sunday evening or Monday, but added that the prince is certain to appear at a rally in Pursat province Tuesday.
Education Secretary of State and Funcinpec member Pok Than said the rumor has been circulating for a long time, but that he knew of nothing to back it up.
SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said it was unfair to accuse his party of starting the rumor. “We heard that some people in the party itself were suggesting that Princess Marie could rule the party,” he said.
Son Chhay also said he did not know who writes Khmer Intelligence.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith declined to comment.