Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said he supported Prime Minister Hun
Sen as the candidate for PM in the national elections in 2008.
"I think that he [Hun Sen] is a politician and he can make an announcement as
a prime ministerial candidate," said Ranariddh, on January 27.
"I am the partner in the coalition government [with Cambodian People's Party],
I have no choice but to support him," said the Prince.
The issue of the CPP's top candidate for 2008 has emerged just days before the party
is due to hold its annual congress in Phnom Penh on January 28 and 29.
Hun Sen sparked the public debate by saying the country would face chaos in the event
of his death or resignation, because deputy prime ministers are not able to take
his position according to the Constitution.
"For example, if I die today, the government would be dissolved immediately
from the time of my death or resignation," said Hun Sen during a school inauguration
in Siem Reap on January 25.
He said the positions of deputy prime ministers, ministers, secretaries of state
and under-secretaries of state would be terminated automatically.
"Please, do not misunderstand me, I am clearly reading the Constitution. ...
If a new prime minister cannot be elected, there is a chaos. It is not a joke."
Article 125 of the Constitution said that if the post of prime minister is permanently
vacant, a new Council of Ministers must be appointed under the conditions as stipulated
in the Constitution. If the vacancy is temporary, an acting prime minister must be
However, Heng Samrin, honorary chairman of the CPP said on Jan. 27 that if the PM
died from disease there would be no chaos.
He said that Sar Kheng, CPP's deputy prime minister would become an acting prime
minister, awaiting the vote from the National Assembly and approval of the King.
"Chaos would occur if the prime minister was assasinated, or there was a coup,"
He said, as an example, former Prime Minister Chan Si died of a heart attack in December
1984, and the then foreign minister Hun Sen succeeded him.
Hun Sen said he had no intention of stepping down and that he will seek prime ministerial
candidacy at the national election scheduled in 2008.
He said that someone had indicated it was time for him to resign, but he did not
say who made the comment.
Hun Sen said his fortuneteller has predicted that his family is in a lucky phase.
"When my fortuneteller says that I have good luck, the other members of the
government have to be happy with their positions," said Hun Sen.
Samrin said the issue of who will lead the CPP into the next election is definitely
off the agenda of the two day congress, attended by more than 500 party members from
across the country.
He said that the party's members intend to discuss the situation that arose after
the national elections in July 2003 and to draw up a CPP strategy for the future.
The party will also elect seven new members onto the Standing Committee, raising
the committee from 21 to 28 people, said Samrin.
"It is necessary to increase the number of Standing Committee members in order
to improve the quality of the party," said Samrin. "A decision made by
the majority is better than a personal decision."
While CPP have kept the details of their congress agenda quiet, the limited comments
they have made has led the opposition party to suspect an internal power struggle
"I hope that they talk about the Hun Sen and Heng Samrin clash," said Ung
Bun Ang, spokesman of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP).
The SRP issued a statement on January 26 saying that all 24 SRP parliamentarians
will make a request to the National Assembly for an amendment of the 1993 Constitution,
allowing a government to be formed with a 50 percent parliamentary majority.
The statement said that the current two-thirds required for the formation of government
has caused past post-election political stalemates, and could cause others in the
Ranariddh, President of the National Assembly said he could not decide on the proposed
constitutional amendment, and it will need to be discussed with the CPP.
"We have to think about the most important point of national unity," said