Ranariddh: Renegade Fun­cin­pec Members Should Leave Party

A day after accusing his own party ministers of secretly meeting with the CPP, Funcinpec Presi­dent Prince Norodom Ranariddh said Thursday that renegade Fun­cin­pec members should leave the party.

“If anyone has met with Prime Minister Hun Sen without my permission, they’d better resign from the Funcinpec party,” Prince Ranariddh told reporters outside the National Assembly.

He did not name the ministers believed to have been in contact with Hun Sen and declined to provide more details. But the prince’s admission that some Funcinpec members were meeting with the CPP behind his back may indicate an internal fracture in the party’s resolve to stay out of a new Hun Sen-led government.

A high-level Funcinpec official identified the breakaway ministers as You Hockry, the co-minister of Interior; Veng Sereyvuth, the minister of Tourism; Ly Thuch, the secretary of state for Rural Devel­op­ment; Khy Taing Lim, the minister of Public Works and Trans­port; and Minister of Health Hong Sun Huot.

“As I understand it, there are five people and those five people are just hungry for the minister positions so they broke away from the party line,” the official said.

Four of the ministers could not be reached for comment on Thurs­day.

Hong Sung Huot, however, denied he was part of any breakaway group, adding that he did not know any details of the matter.

“I’ve never talked with the CPP,” he said. “I’ve never talked to anybody.”

Prince Sisowath Sirirath, Funcinpec co-minister of Defense, said he could not speculate on the identities of the nonconformist ministers.

But, he said: “Party members should not be out of line. Steering committee members have to follow the party line and follow what the Prince [Ranariddh] says.”

Meanwhile, officials from Fun­cin­pec and the Sam Rainsy Party, which created an alliance recently, said Thurs­day the two parties will file separate complaints today with the Con­sti­tu­tional Council in an attempt to invalidate the National Election Com­mittee’s official election results.

The complaints, which several members of the Constitutional Council already agreed to accept, would be the last legal means to overturn or invalidate any official election results.

Funcinpec’s 12-point complaint to the Constitutional Council, signed by Funcinpec Secretary-Gen­eral Prince Norodom Siri­vudh, accuses the election committee of a variety of infractions such as incompetence, biases toward the CPP and a numerous election irregularities, including incorrectly prepared lists at the polling stations.

“I think the [commune election committees] worked to hide the CPP activists’ mistakes,” Prince Sirivudh stated in the complaint.

Although the opposition party will lodge a similar appeal with the council today that could force the NEC to invalidate the official vote tallies, recount votes in some areas or even require a re-vote, Sam Rainsy said he is not confident that the nine-member council will uphold the two parties’ complaints.

“The CPP has already given orders to the Constitutional Coun­cil to validate the NEC’s elec­tion results,” Sam Rainsy said. “I’m not hopeful that the Constitutional Council would decide a fair judgment.”

Several members of the council laughed off Sam Rainsy’s claims that they have been influenced by the ruling CPP.

“We do not respect what [Sam Rainsy] says,” said Constitutional Council member Yang Sem on Thursday. “That is his opinion, and I question that opinion.”

Yang Sen said that the Consti­tu­tional Council will accept any and all election-related complaints from any party and will judge them in a fair and neutral manner.

To reach its judgment, the nine Constitutional Council members will personally investigate any complaint submitted to it by political parties or the NEC within 72 hours after the final results are announced. The council then has between 10 and 20 days to render a judgment on the claim.

NEC documents state that a re-election would take place up to eight days after the Constitu­tional Council fails to resolve complaints.

“A decision by the Constitu­tion­al Council is final—we are the final authority on any election matter,” Son Soubert, another Consti­tu­tional Council member and a former member of Funcinpec, said Thursday.

He could not speculate on what the council would do in this instance, since he has not yet seen the complaint from Funcinpec or the Sam Rainsy Party.

Son Soubert would not comment on whether any of the council members have been influenced by the CPP but said he has not met or spoken to any CPP members about it.

“In principal, the Constitutional Council has to be neutral,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Wency Leung and David Kihara)

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