Prince Moves To Heal Rift In Funcinpec

Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh has intervened in an internal fight between co-Minister of Interior You Hock­ry and party members who are accusing him of corruption and nepotism.

Although the prince downplayed the party infighting while speaking to reporters Monday outside the National Assembly, he did say, “If they don’t agree to a compromise, all of them should resign [from their government positions] for the sake of the party.”

The rift involving You Hockry became public in late February, while Prince Ranariddh was on a three-week trip to France and Japan. The fight started when 1,000 former Funcinpec resistance fighters from throughout the country sent a petition to Fun­cinpec Secretary-General Noro­dom Sirivudh asking for You Hockry’s removal.

They accused You Hockry of using his position to gain personal wealth and jobs for his relatives. You Hockry’s son-in-law, Sambo Che, was recently fired from his position as undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Tourism. There was speculation he was fired because he had been ac­cused of having a role in a US visa scam.

Prince Ranariddh said he called for party unity when he met with RCAF Deputy Commander-in-Chief Khan Savoeun, who led the petition to fire You Hockry. The prince said all parties involved should try to find a compromise.

Funcinpec members also criticized You Hockry for living in the US during the 1980s while many Funcinpec members were fighting in Phnom Penh or the countryside against the Vietnamese-installed government.

You Hockry could not be reached for comment Monday.

The prince did not comment on whether Funcinpec members would fire You Hockry, but mentioned that any change would be subject to approval from Prime Minister Hun Sen.

When asked if he would take sides with the majority of voters or if he would find a solution that they don’t want, Ranariddh said, “I will study the proposal.”

The prince Monday also defended the coalition between the CPP and Funcinpec, saying that Funcinpec will never cut off cooperation and partnership with the ruling party.

Funcinpec’s role in the coalition government has been heavily criticized in light of its poor showing in the Feb 3 commune elections. Critics have said Funcinpec has been too accommodating to the CPP.

Although the prince conceded that “there should be some change [concerning the coalition],” he fully supported keeping a strong relation with the CPP.

“Some people have said a coalition with the CPP has been useless because there is no balance among us,” the prince said. “But this is a short vision. What we have done is provide social and political stability—if there is no stability, there would never be an election or development here.”


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