Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh Tuesday used the National Assembly floor as his forum to threaten party members not to join the opposition.
Any Funcinpec members who defect to the Sam Rainsy Party “could face being fired,” the prince told the Assembly, which was debating amendments to the national election law.
His warning seemed to be a response to opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s recent offer to take in any Funcinpec members who want to switch parties—and to rumors that a few Funcinpec lawmakers, dissatisfied with the prince’s leadership, are considering taking him up on it.
In his usual allusive style, Prince Ranariddh did not directly say that lawmakers who wanted to leave Funcinpec would lose their legislative positions. Instead, he framed the matter as a parable of disgruntled ministerial officials. These hypothetical officials, he said, would be fired from their party.
In the past, officials and legislators who lost their party backing have lost their positions as well—including Sam Rainsy, fired from Funcinpec in 1994, and four CPP senators dismissed in December and January.
But the prince refused to be pinned down. Opposition lawmaker Sam Sundoeun raised once more Sam Rainsy’s claim that lawmakers who switched parties would not have to leave parliament because they would still have a party’s backing.
Prince Ranariddh stuck to his example, however, saying, “If Funcinpec members who are ministers, secretaries of state or undersecretaries of state join the Sam Rainsy Party, it is logical that I would ask the prime minister to have them removed.”
Regardless of what the prince really meant, his speech was an unmistakable warning to would-be defectors.
The election law debate continued Tuesday, focusing on many of the same issues as it had Monday, especially the question of Assembly approval of National Election Committee nominees. Opposition and some Funcinpec lawmakers argue that a two-thirds vote, rather than a simple majority, should be required.
Today, visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson is scheduled to address the Assembly.
“She will just deliver a speech on human trafficking [worldwide], not the human rights situation in Cambodia,” he said.