Princess Says Some F’pec Ministers Corrupt

Funcinpec parliamentarian Princess Norodom Vacheara told British Broadcasting Corp radio’s East Asia Today she would walk away from a future Funcinpec government if the party’s president, her nephew Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh, did not weed corrupt party members from the administration.

“If Prince Ranariddh takes back corrupt ministers, known by everybody that they [are] corrupted…I would leave Funcin­pec,” she said in a frank interview broadcast Tuesday night.

Princess Vacheara declined to name the corrupt Funcinpec government officials, and said that Prince Ranariddh was not aware of their corrupt ways when he appointed them. She also said she did not have evidence against the officials, but insisted their misdeeds are well-known.

Princess Vacheara on Wednes­day declined to say what she would do should she leave Fun­cinpec. Sam Rainsy claimed her as a defector to his opposition party earlier this year.

In separately recorded commentary that followed the BBC interview, the reporter remarked that Prince Ranariddh likely would be upset by Princess Va­cheara’s admission.

But Funcinpec appeared unruffled Wednesday. Spokesman Ok Socheat stood behind the prin­cess’ words. “We don’t like the corrupt ministers. We want new ministers,” he said.

Asked to further identify the blights on his party, Ok Socheat would only say that they are five “very high-ranking officials.” They will not be identified at this stage, because “all of them are working on the election campaign,” he said.

Wednesday morning, Princess Vacheara joined two other popular Funcinpec members, Senator Nhiek Bun Chhay and Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua, in leading more than 1,000 supporters through the rain-soaked streets of the capital.

Nhiek Bun Chhay, who commanded the royalist forces in the 1997 factional fighting, said Wednesday he supported Prin­cess Vacheara’s demand, but added that he himself could not leave the party regardless. “We have struggled too much,” he said.

If the royalists prove unsuccessful in Sunday’s polls, the party will have to restructure itself for the next election, Nhiek Bun Chhay said.

Mu Sochua said she is in full agreement with the princess. “Definitely, in the future we want a clean commitment to the people…. We have to be credible,” she said. Speaking of “a new Funcin­pec,” Mu Sochua said, “We have a great number of us on the same platform…. The prince himself has said he would leave the government if he is found to commit any mistakes.”


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