Funcinpec Party Disintegrates, Yet Again

Ros Chanveasna / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Nhek Bunchhay, a former leader within the Funcinpec Party, speaking at a news conference in Phnom Penh.

Dark clouds loom over the royalist Funcinpec Party, which disintegrated once again yesterday following infighting between 71-year-old party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh and deputy president Nhek Bun Chhay after over a year of peace.  
The political crisis detonated after Mr. Chhay made an announcement at a press conference in Phnom Penh declaring his resignation as the party’s second deputy president. Mr. Chhay gave multiple reasons for his decision.
“First, the original party symbol was removed and replaced. Secondly, the internal party crisis has not been resolved, even though I have struggled and kept calm to find ways of breaking it up. Thirdly, I am not satisfied with the kind of dictatorial leadership governing the actions of the party,” Mr. Chhay said. “The Funcinpec Party had become nepotistic and corrupt once more.”  
Funcinpec Party spokesman Nhep Bunchin denied Mr. Chhay’s accusations. “Prince Ranariddh is not a dictatorial leader as Mr. Bun Chhay has accused. I really regret that so much,” he said, adding that some of Mr. Chhay’s supporters also walked out of the party alongside him. Their absence will negatively impact the party, he said. 
Mr. Chhay, who had been with the Funcinpec Party since 1981 when it was founded by the late King Norodom Sihanouk, said that he will form his own party named the National Unity Party. It will be made up of former Funcinpec Party officials who have been removed from their positions.
“Today, we met with the Interior Ministry and applied documents to register our new party,” he said.
Mr. Bunchin was baffled by Mr. Chhay’s move to defect and start anew. 
There has been a long-standing conflict between Prince Ranariddh and Mr. Chhay after the party had Prince Ranariddh ousted in 2006 over bribery charges following the sale of the party headquarters. 
Prince Ranariddh recently warned his supporters against insubordination during a meeting in Phnom Penh. Citing a Khmer proverb, he said, “There are some people who eat rice and then turn to break the rice cooker. That was the main cause that led to weakness in the party.” 
Mr. Chhay shot back online through his personal Facebook page, accusing Prince Ranariddh of holding a grudge against him, despite the Prince’s claims to the contrary.

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