Officials Quash Rumors of Princess Taking Over Funcinpec Presidency

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.

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