An anonymous statement purportedly written by Funcinpec supporters was e-mailed to media outlets on Tuesday, accusing top party officials of being puppets of Prime Minister Hun Sen and calling for the party to be renamed after Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
The statement, which was e-mailed by an unidentified individual and also faxed out by the Ministry of Information, accused Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay and Minister of Rural Development Lu Laysreng of being Hun Sen’s minions, alleging that they had helped the CPP to remove Funcinpec officials.
“We are the people who struggle for the real royalists, and support Samdech Party President to change the Funcinpec party to Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh Party,” the statement declares.
It adds that the authors of the statement will reveal their identities when the party changes its name.
Lu Laysreng said he was too sick to speak to a reporter, and Nhiek Bun Chhay was reportedly outside the country and could not be reached for comment.
Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said the anonymous statement had been concocted by enemies of Funcinpec to spread internal division, though he admitted that Funcinpec had asked the Ministry of Information to disseminate the text to the media.
Funcinpec asked the Ministry of Information’s media center to fax the statement to the press because the royalist party does not have a fax machine, Nouv Sovathero said, adding that the party’s decision to spread the statement was due to requests from the media.
“They should be ashamed,” he said of the statement’s authors.
“Prince Norodom Ranariddh never mentioned changing the name,” he added.
Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the statement might have been sent out by Funcinpec officials trying to test public opinion about a possible change of name.
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang said the statement indicates a rift inside Funcinpec.
“The party has no leadership. It is losing control,” he said.