Ranariddh Urges Boycott of Reshuffle Vote

Funcinpec President Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh on Saturday called on royalist lawmakers to boycott the coming National Assembly vote to reshuffle 10 senior Func­in­pec government officials.

Prince Ranariddh said the move to replace nine royalist secretaries of state and senior minister Serei Kosal—many of whom are known to be close allies of the prince—would breach the 2004 coalition agreement between Funcinpec and the ruling CPP.

“I ask lawmakers not to vote,” either for or against the reshuffle, Prince Ranariddh said in a speech in Kompong Thom province that was broadcast on Funcinpec’s Ta Prohm radio.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sept 19 asked the Assembly to vote for the 10 to be replaced by other Funcinpec officials.

Funcinpec’s boycott would be largely symbolic, as the CPP controls 73 seats in parliament, 10 more than the absolute majority needed to approve the reshuffle.

Nonetheless, Funcinpec lawmakers Khieu San and Monh Saphan both said they would follow the prince’s instructions.

Hun Sen’s adviser Om Yentieng said the prince’s order was ill-ad­vised, and would not help the in­creas­ingly strained relationship be­tween Funcinpec and the CPP.

“This is not a good solution. It just shows that the prince is stubborn,” he said Sunday.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said no date has been set for the Assembly vote.

Prince Ranariddh also an­nounced Saturday that he has created a committee, which royalist officials said will dilute the powers of the party’s Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay, who is seen as being close to Hun Sen.

Prince Ranariddh will serve as the president of the committee, while Funcinpec lawmaker Chhim Seak Leng will be vice president.

Nhiek Bun Chhay must obey the committee’s orders, said the prince’s public affairs adviser Ok Socheat. “Chhim Seak Leng’s position will be higher than Nhiek Bun Chhay’s,” he added.

Nhiek Bun Chhay said he supported the new committee, as it will help dispel rumors that he has be­trayed the party by cozying up to Hun Sen. “I will just execute the [committee’s] orders,” he said.


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