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Funcinpec fracas

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A woman walks past the Funcinpec party headquarters on Norodom Boulevard today.

A senoir Funcinpec official has accused the party’s Secretary General Nhek Bun Chhay of selling the party’s Phnom Penh headquarters last month without the agreement of other members of the Permanent Committee.

Phan Chantha, a former Funcinpec lawmaker and member of the committee, said Nhek Bun Chhay had sold the Norodom Boulevard building for US$3.85 million.

“This sale is completely contrary to the condition of the party,” Phan Chantha told reporters today.

Nhek Bun Chhay has purchased a new party headquarters in Bak Kheng commune, in Kandal’s Mok Kampoul district, but had not divulged how much the new property cost, Phan Chantha said.

He added that the new party building was about 10 kilometres outside Phnom Penh and difficult for party officials to access.

Phan Chantha also accused Nhek Bun Chhay of selling provincial party offices in Kampong Cham, Siem Reap and Pursat without informing the committee.

“Acting like this is not suitable for a party leader. I am not afraid of being fired from the party and I dare to be responsible before the law,” Phan Chantha said.

When contacted today, Nhek Bun Chhay denied the accusations, alleging Phan Chantha was making the claims because he intends to defect and rejoin Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Funcinpec’s former president, who split from the party in acrimony in 2006.

At that time, Ranariddh was ousted from the party following allegations he embezzled funds from the sale of the party’s then-headquarters.

Nhek Bun Chhay said a majority of Funcinpec’s Central Committee had agreed to the sale of the property, with only three or four members opposed.

“Eight-four of 87 members on the Central Committee have agreed to sell it,” he said, adding that Phan Chantha opposed the plan in order to “defend the headquarters for Samdech Krom Preah [Ranariddh]”.

Nhek Bun Chhay said the new party headquarters cost only $1.5 million, and that the profit from the sale would go towards helping the party’s development.

Funcinpec President Keo Puth Reaksmey said today that Nhek Bun Chhay could not sell the party headquarters on his own, but added that the members of the Permanent Committee had been informed of the sale.

“We have a proper contract. I suspect that the complainer does not know everything, and when he makes incorrect complaints it could be dangerous to him,” Keo Puth Reaksmey said.

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