Funcinpec leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh confirmed on Wednesday he is willing to step down from his position as president of the National Assembly in favor of representing his party as a parliamentarian.
“During the past five years, I have not been happy with the role as president [of the Assembly] so I have to choose between being the Assembly president and a regular parliamentarian,” the prince told reporters.
He added: “I’m not quitting to prepare to take the throne, but I’m preparing my mouth to question new ministers and the new prime minister.”
Honorary CPP President Heng Samrin said July 30 that he will serve as Assembly president in the upcoming mandate. The longtime party stalwart served as Assembly first vice president during the previous government mandate.
Funcinpec officials on Tuesday said Prince Ranariddh would continue as president of the party but will transfer the top Funcinpec government position to party Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh if the party enters a coalition government.
The prince told reporters on Wednesday he wanted to take a lower position in the Assembly so that he can take a more active role in issues such as border controls, immigration and civil service salaries, which he said he could not do as Assembly president.
“I’m prepared to sit in the National Assembly and speak up and to avoid criticism that says I never oppose the government and that I am not honest,” he said. “People say I only criticize and raise major issues during election campaigns, so I have to speak out from the beginning of the term.”
Although Funcinpec officials have rejected preliminary results from the July 27 general election as fraudulent, Prince Ranariddh repeated that his party will not launch any protests.
In 1998, weeks of post-election demonstrations in Phnom Penh ended in bloodshed with dozens of protesters killed.
“Funcinpec is definitely clear that we will not hold any demonstrations, but we will start the negotiations as soon as possible to work out [a potential political deadlock],” the prince said.
Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy, however, said last week his party would consider organizing street demonstrations if its election complaints were not properly addressed. But, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, he said no protests would be staged until after the election process ends, which includes any appeals to the Constitutional Council.
Meanwhile, Funcinpec officials said they will file official complaints today with the Constitutional Council against the National Election Committee, claiming the election body had failed to uphold its mandate to be unbiased.
Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou, however, declined to comment on what the party hopes to resolve through the complaints process. He did not say whether Funcinpec would call for a re-count or a re-vote.
“It’s up to the Constitutional Council to make a judgment. I don’t speculate what will happen,” Kassie Neou said.
According to NEC documents, a re-election would take place up to eight days after the Constitutional Council fails to resolve complaints.
(Additional reporting by Phann Ana, David Kihara and Wency Leung)