Back as Funcinpec President, Ranariddh Looks to Oust an Old Enemy

Ros Chanveasna / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Prince Norodom Ranarriddh, son of the beloved late monarch Norodom Sihanouk, speaks during the inauguration of the newly-formed royalist party in 2014. KT/ Chor Sokunthea

Infighting has broken out within the Funcinpec Party, with its 71-year-old president Prince Norodom Ranariddh warning in a public meeting yesterday that the deputy president, Nhek Bun Chhay, could be ousted by the party’s newly-formed rules committee. 
There has been a long-standing conflict between Prince Ranariddh and Mr. Bun Chhay, after the latter had Prince Ranariddh expelled from the party on bribery charges in 2006. Prince Ranariddh left the country after the accusations until receiving a royal pardon, and resumed his role as party president last year.
Mr. Bun Chhay shot back yesterday with a Facebook post saying that while he supported the rules committee, he was concerned that Prince Ranariddh could pack it with his supporters in order to kick out his opponents within the party. 
“Do not put only your people [in the party] to pave the way to expel old party members,” he wrote in the Facebook post addressed to Prince Ranariddh. He accused Prince Ranariddh of holding a grudge against him, despite Prince Ranariddh’s claims to the contrary.
In a speech in front of hundreds of supporters on Saturday, Prince Ranariddh said that some of the party members had betrayed the party, though he declined to name names. 
Mr. Bun Chhay insisted that – contrary to Prince Ranariddh’s claims – he is a loyal Funcinpec party member. “I would like to tell [Prince Ranariddh] that I am also a ‘Sihanoukist’ and ‘Royalist.’ I have been loyal to the party ever since the late King Father [King Norodom Sihanouk],” he said. 
He added that Prince Ranariddh’s repeated political missteps as Funcinpec’s leader have cost the party much of its support. He warned that more blunders could spell the end of the party, and would reflect badly on the party’s founder, the King Father Sihanouk.
Political analyst Kem Ley said this infighting within Funcinpec is nothing new, as the party has become increasingly irrelevant in the Cambodian political space. 
“Both leaders, Prince Ranariddh and Mr. Bun Chhay, should consider resigning from their positions in the party if they want to regain popular support ahead of next general elections,” Mr. Ley said. “They should step back and give the younger generation the opportunity to lead this party so it can improve.” 

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