F UNCINPEC Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh has publicly dismissed suggestions
he will resign or challenge party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh at next month's
planned Funcinpec congress.
Sirivudh said he was committed to helping Funcinpec through to the 1998 general election,
and speculation in the Khmer press that he would quit or vie for the party presidency
"I would like to be clear on this - the congress is not about presidential mandate."
Prince Ranariddh's mandate as president lasts until February 1996 and Sirivudh said
he would support any move to extend that mandate until 1998, because "we don't
have the time to fight each other."
He was adamant that if he was to leave Funcinpec, he would have to be pushed.
"I was born Funcinpec. I never resign. If they take me out of Funcinpec, of
course, but I never resign.
"If you leave Funcinpec, you can create a party, that's good. But if you are
in the party, you cannot fight the president."
Sirivudh's future in Funcinpec has been the subject of considerable speculation -
particularly since close friend Sam Rainsy foreshadowed the formation of a new party
- because of his poor relations with Ranariddh.
The pair have had disputes over a number of issues, especially Rainsy's expulsion
from Funcinpec and the party's handling of its role as "the ruling party"
in the coalition.
In a Sept 30 interview with the Post, Sirivudh indicated the two Princes still had
He indirectly criticized Ranariddh's recent call for Cambodia to introduce the death
penalty, saying such an important issue should be put before party members first.
He also hinted at differences between himself and other party leaders over how the
Funcinpec congress should be run.
He said he hoped the first day of the congress, at least, could be large with as
many as possible attending.
Asked whether Ranariddh agreed with that, he said: "Perhaps what I would like
as Secretary-General is not what the steering committee would like 100 per cent.
We need to meet a crossing point."
Sirivudh has been planning the congress - the first since 1992 - for months.
Following Rainsy's June expulsion from the National Assembly, he said the congress
was even more important to allow "real democratic" debate on the Rainsy
affair and the party's future.
Sirivudh said last week that he hoped there would be no "confrontation"
at the congress, tentatively scheduled for Nov 2, and he would do nothing to encourage
But the party's rank-and-file from around the Kingdom had to have the opportunity
to raise questions and get answers about their concerns.
"I hope there will be unity. But you have to listen to them. They have something
to say, not necessarily about the leadership but about their problems in the provinces."
Sirivudh believed the congress should address issues such as how to help Funcinpec
secure 50 per cent of real power in the coalition government, how to fully integrate
its police force into the national police and what could be done to prevent food
He did not agree with comments by Rainsy that the name of Funcinpec was so badly
"tarnished" that it was almost beyond saving.
Sirivudh said Funcinpec still had 1996 and 1997 to make real improvements for the
lives of Khmers before going to the election.
Noting with concern the rising price of rice, he said the most basic things like
that could decide how people voted.
"Forget Sirivudh, forget Sam Rainsy - the price of rice," he said, symbolically
slamming his fist on to a table.
Also important, though, was that Funcinpec be seen to be the Royalist party.
"We must give the perception to the people that we are close to the King, we
must support some of his ideas.
"They are not interested in this leader or that leader, they like their nation,
they like their father of the nation.
"If His Majesty says left, and we go right, we have a problem."