Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh has shown up on a list of alleged members of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters that Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said he will ask Prime Minister Hun Sen to disregard, saying it could be used as a weapon by political opponents.
“There are many, many names of Funcinpec people [on the list], but I deny Funcinpec people are members of the CFF and urge [the prime minister] to abandon this list,” the prince said Tuesday.
“If you have your name on the list, one day it will be used against you.”
A total of 76 people are serving prison terms for their alleged connections with the US-based anti-government CFF, which botched a coup attempt in November 2000 and has been blamed for three subsequent bomb attacks in Phnom Penh.
The list, which co-Minister of Defense Prince Sisowath Sirirath said was taken from a computer owned by CFF commander Richard Kiri Kim, was used by the courts to convict some CFF members.
Several Funcinpec members are still waiting to be sentenced for CFF-related crimes, and both party officials and diplomats said they feared the government was using the CFF as an excuse to target political opposition.
“Every time Funcinpec has a problem, the issue of the CFF arises. We hope it will not be used as an instrument to intimidate,” said Prince Sirirath.
Government spokesman and senior CPP member Khieu Kanharith said Tuesday relations between Cambodia’s ruling party and its junior coalition partner are good. “We don’t have any intention to use this as a means to wipe out our opponents,” he said.
Still, the mere suggestion that Prince Sirivudh is involved with the CFF, which has been described by the courts and the government as a terrorist threat, has Funcinpec officials afraid someone is targeting the person many see as Funcinpec’s biggest asset.
“We are deeply concerned. [Sirivudh] has already been accused before of trying to assassinate Hun Sen and was sent into exile for awhile,” Prince Sirirath said.
Prince Sirivudh was forced to flee Cambodia in 1995 and stayed away four years. He was allowed back into the political arena last year as Funcinpec’s secretary-general with the understanding he would not become too active.
But he has since become one of the ailing party’s central figures. “It was a sleeping party once, but since he took over the office…the party seems to be alive again,” Prince Sirirath said.
Prince Sirirath acknowledged the list may be contributing to the current infighting within Funcinpec. Prince Ranariddh said he was told by RCAF deputy commander-in-chief Khann Savoeun that Funcinpec co-Minister of Interior You Hockry has a copy of the list.
Khann Savoeun is leading a bid to oust You Hockry from the party, accusing him of corruption and nepotism. Prince Sirirath said he was told You Hockry might try to use the list as leverage against other Funcinpec factions.
You Hockry could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Prince Sirirath said he didn’t think You Hockry would “discredit” himself by using the list as a political weapon.
“But [to use the list] is one way of looking at it, and in politics all things are possible,” Prince Sirirath said.
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