The former president and current party secretary of the struggling Funcinpec party, Nhek Bun Chhay, has been nominated as a government adviser – a position the government ranks equivalent to that of a deputy prime minister.
Senior ruling Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the promotion of Bun Chhay, and other Funcinpec members – which comes after the party failed to win a single seat in the July national election – was simply a continuation of long-standing cooperation.
“The promotion is simple because the CPP’s policy has always been to cooperate with the Funcinpec party, and many Funcinpec party members are working in the government as secretaries of state and undersecretaries, and some are working in the provinces,” he said.
Bun Chhay, who held the title of deputy prime minister before the election, said yesterday he was promoted to the position on October 1.
“And some of my party members will be promoted to secretary of state and undersecretary of state,” he said.
Political analyst Sok Touch said that, in promoting members of Funcinpec, the government was taking precautions, securing a reliable ally “for future actions, if there is a problem in the sixth election”.
Funcinpec, which was established by then-King Norodom Sihanouk in 1981, won Cambodia’s 1993 election under President Norodom Ranariddh but was forced into a power-sharing arrangement with the CPP and has gradually seen its influence whittled away ever since.
After the party lost the 1998 national election, it returned as a coalition partner of the CPP and has remained cooperative with the ruling party.