Prince Ranariddh Wins Funcinpec Power Struggle

Prince Norodom Ranariddh completed his takeover of the royalist Funcinpec party on Thursday, with a national party congress granting him absolute control of the party following a power struggle with the man who engineered his removal as leader in 2006.

Invited back to the party he led to election victory in 1993, Prince Ranariddh has since his return to Funcinpec in January fought a public battle with Nhiek Bun Chhay, now the second vice president, over leadership positions in the party including secretary-general.

Mr. Bun Chhay publicly claimed last month that the prince’s selection of former Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Say Hak as Funcinpec’s secretary-general was void, as it was not approved by a party congress.

Prince Ranariddh said he had the power as leader to make appointments as he wished—a notion Mr. Bun Chhay rejected—and at Thursday’s congress Mr. Hak read a decision that affirmed the prince’s interpretation.

“The congress adopts the agenda on the amendments of the [party’s] statute consisting of…a new logo, and the granting of full power to party President Prince Norodom Ranariddh to…make internal reforms to assure effectiveness in leadership of Funcinpec,” Mr. Hak said.

Replacing Funcinpec’s two-decades-old logo featuring Phnom Penh’s Independence Monument will be a new circular design almost identical to the logo of the Community of Royalist People Party, which the prince created last year but abolished upon his return to Funcinpec.

Prince Ranariddh told the congress that he hoped Funcinpec’s leaders, many of whom are members of the royal family, would carry on the legacy of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk —and also avoid nepotism.

“Besides serving the movement of our late king’s legacy, please, our leaders, do not bring nepotism to be practiced inside the Funcinpec party,” he said. “I will fire from Funcinpec anyone who practices nepotism.”

Prince Ranariddh also called on Mr. Bun Chhay and the prince’s half-sister, Funcinpec First Vice President Princess Norodom Arunrasmey, to unite behind his leadership.

“I, as the president, just visit the fields to gather together the real royalists’ voices to join the Funcinpec party, and each vice president just has their own duties according to my needs,” he said.

Mr. Bun Chhay could not be reached for comment.

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