Amidst a rift within his party, Funcinpec and National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said Wednesday he would allow Prime Minister Hun Sen to fire corrupt royalist party government officials.
Speaking to reporters outside the Assembly, Prince Ranariddh agreed with Hun Sen’s comments earlier this week that the government must fire or replace corrupt officials.
Hun Sen on Tuesday unseated the director of the tax department, Hong Tha, and chastised him in front of participants at a conference on good governance, saying Hong Tha was not able to effectively control officials below him.
Asked whether he would remove any of his own party members, Prince Ranariddh said: “The final decision to fire corrupt officials is up to Premier Hun Sen, who is head of the government.
“If we have concrete evidence [of corruption], Samdech Hun Sen said he has measures which we will take,” he added.
A representatives of a group of 19 Funcinpec ex-governors and deputy governors, who have publicly decried their recent removal, reacted defensively to Prince Ranariddh’s comments on Thursday.
Tep Nonnary, former governor of Kandal province, denied any wrongdoing while he was in office, alleging instead that corruption was involved in the decision to replace him. “It is not true that corrupt officials were replaced. But good officials, who have no money, were replaced with incompetent officials,” he said.
The disgruntled group has demanded an investigation into their ouster, as well as the removal of Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh.
Funcinpec spokesman Tuot Lux said Thursday that Royalist officials are appointed based on their competence.
“There is no exchange of money for power” in the appointment of royalist officials, he said. “Some officials were replaced because [they were] inactive in their work.” But he added that despite the prince’s stance on corrupt officials, he did not expect that any other Funcinpec officials would be fired.