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F'pec rattled by more defections

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Forty-one Funcinpec members left the party in December, with 100 more defections expected

Photo by:

Vandy Rattana

Better days: Funcinpec party members campaign in Sihanoukville in July. They lost the coastal constituency.

CAMBODIA'S beleaguered Royalist party Funcinpec suffered a further blow Tuesday with the announcement that 41 high-ranking members had defected in December alone.

Ok Socheat, a former adviser to Funcinpec President Keo Puth Rasmey who crossed to the Cambodia People's Party on December 12, told the Post Tuesday that defectors had joined the ruling party and that he anticipated around 100 Funcinpec district and provincial officials would  jump ship soon.

He expected the new defections would be announced when Prime Minister Hun Sen approves their membership to the CPP.

"We want to show that our country is united and we support Hun Sen, as we believe he is more effective at national development," Ok Socheat said.

Hun Sen on Monday vowed to remain in power for another 29 years and promised to defeat his political opposition.

"I will stand as my party's candidate for prime minister in the next national elections in 2013, and I will be 61 years old," he said Monday at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh.

"I will hold power until the opposition has no power to poison with criticism, and if they don't come to the CPP,  they will move to other places," Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen has been prime minister since 1985 and led the CPP to win 90 of 123 National Assembly seats in July's polls.

Prince Sisowath Sirirath, deputy president of Funcinpec, said the Royalists are a democratic party and that members were free to leave.

"We are not concerned about the departure of those officials because they were unemployed and they have to look for a job in the government," Sirirath said.

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