Funcinpec will not remove co-Minister of the Interior You Hockry from the party in order to protect his ministerial seat for the royalists, Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said Friday.
After months of pressure from party activists, Prince Ranariddh announced last month that he would seek a new Funcinpec co-Minister of Interior.
But the CPP-controlled National Assembly must approve new ministerial appointees, and Funcinpec officials worry the CPP would stall such a vote if the seat were empty, leaving the ministry in the sole hands of CPP co-Minister Sar Kheng.
“It is better to have a co-minister from Funcinpec than to have Sar Kheng alone in this important ministry,” Prince Ranariddh said to reporters outside the National Assembly. He said such a scenario would be a “responsibility I cannot accept.”
The party has been in turmoil for months, since a rebellious faction of former resistance fighters demanded the ouster of You Hockry, who also chairs the party’s steering committee.
But the party has not officially designated a replacement, Prince Ranariddh said Friday. Although party leaders have agreed on RCAF Deputy Commander-in-Chief Khan Savoeun, they have not completed the paperwork to nominate him, the prince said.
As soon as he gets a letter from the party, Prince Ranariddh said he “will talk directly with the prime minister.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen has publicly expressed doubts that CPP lawmakers will provide the two-thirds majority necessary to replace You Hockry, but the prince said the CPP is obligated to approve the replacement under the coalition agreement.
“When Funcinpec proposes a candidate…I will ask the CPP to abide by the agreement between the two parties,” the prince said.