Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Monday downplayed the rift between members of his party, saying Funcinpec was not experiencing a political crisis.
Asked about the recent complaints of former Funcinpec governors and deputy governors who were ousted from their positions last month, Prince Ranariddh told reporters: “Some officials are a little too extreme and journalists add a little more seasoning.”
“You call it a political crisis, but let me clarify that Funcinpec is a democratic party,” he said after a conference in Phnom Penh on Monday. Dissenting Funcinpec members were merely exercising their “voice of democracy” within the party, Prince Ranariddh said.
Since their ouster, 19 former governors and deputy governors have banded together, calling for the removal of Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh, whom they say was responsible for appointing their replacements.
The former provincial officials have also charged that corruption was involved in the selection of their replacements.
Prince Ranariddh, who returned Sunday from several weeks in France, said now that he is back, he would “resolve the issue.”
During his absence, a special committee was established by the party to fashion a compromise with its disgruntled members, and Funcinpec officials have said they will offer positions within the Interior Ministry to appease the ousted provincial leaders.
Reached on Monday, Tep Nonnary, former Kandal province governor, repeated his demand for the removal of Prince Sirivudh but vowed to stay with Funcinpec and continue supporting Prince Ranariddh.
He warned that if the dispute is not resolved, the royalist party, which has experienced a continuos slide in popularity over the past decade, could become a minor player in the next general election.
Tep Nonnary said he and the other former Funcinpec governors and deputy governors would make an appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene on their behalf.
Thach Khorn, the former governor of Banteay Meanchey province, agreed. “If the unfair appointments are not changed, Funcinpec’s popularity will drop from the No 2 party [behind the ruling CPP] to the last.”