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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - With elections looming, Funcinpec boss threatens to fire inactive party members

With elections looming, Funcinpec boss threatens to fire inactive party members

Prince Norodom Ranariddh has warned that he will sack members of his Funcinpec party

if they don't visit constituents in the countryside.

"I am not happy with some ministers," Ranariddh told reporters outside

the National Assembly on July 28. "But I do not want to identify them to the

media."

The Funcinpec president said that the possible removal of officials from the government

payroll is not based on personalities, and will be designed to encourage party members

to work more effectively on behalf of the people and help rebuild the party.

When asked whether Funcinpec's failure to reduce the price of petrol - one of 73

points in a political platform co-signed by Funcinpec and the Cambodian People's

Party (CPP) - would effect the parties standing in future elections, he noted that

both coalition partners were responsible for keeping promises.

"However, we are the partner [of the CPP], and we sit in one boat - if the boat

sinks, we will drown together," Ranariddh said.

With Senate elections scheduled for January 22, 2006, both Prime Minister Hun Sen

and Ranariddh have encouraged their party officials to visit rural areas and listen

to the needs of farmers.

The prince said that he expects several Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) commune council members

to join Funcinpec for the 2007 commune elections 2007 and 2008 national elections.

"Sam Rainsy will not return to Cambodia, so he cannot bring evidence to support

his allegations against Hun Sen and Ranariddh," Ranariddh said.

On July 18, Ranariddh went further with his popularity push, announcing that Funcinpec

commune councils will pay 5,000 riel to any members who remain loyal and vote for

Funcinpec in February 2007.

Buying votes is illegal.

Article 231 of the 2001 Law on the Election of Commune Councils states that any candidate

who "buys off the votes by using either any object or cash" will be deleted

from the list of contenders and have their voter registration card removed. They

can also be fined anywhere from 5 million riel ($1,250) to 25 million riel ($6,250).

The scramble to win over voters comes as hundreds of Funcinpec officials wait on

promised positions within the expanded government.

Hun Sen agreed to create more jobs for Funcinpec members in the coalition government,

but the June 15 deadline for appointing those roles has passed.

Hann Sali, deputy chief of the ferry department in Preak Tameak, Kandal province,

said that he is one of 18 Funcinpec officials in the Ministry of Public Works and

Transportation who were promised a promotion to the rank of director general.

"I am told that all jobs are now in the hands of Sok An, Minister of the Council

of Minister [but he has not made any decisions yet]," Sali said.

Chea Chanboribo, the Funcinpec spokesman, said that the appointment of Funcinpec

officials to new positions is progressing, but has been delayed as the party watches

to see who remains loyal.

Chanboribo would not confirm whether 535 Funcinpec officials are waiting for jobs,

as reported in local media, but said that positions existed in every department within

the government's 25 ministries.

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