About 2,800 supporters attended the first congress of Nhek Bun Chhay’s Khmer National United Party (KNUP) in Phnom Penh yesterday, a party spokesperson said, weeks after splitting from the Prince Norodom Ranariddh-controlled Funcinpec party.
Two days after being recognised by the Interior Ministry, the new party announced Bun Chhay as its party chairman,KNUP spokesman Tum Sambol said.
“We do not focus on Funcinpec,” Sambol said. “We will focus on our [existing supporters] and any new supporters who like our principles.”
According to Sambol, the party has the support of former Funcinpec officials in 25 provinces – many of whom were sidelined by Ranariddh after the merger of the now-defunct Norodom Ranariddh Party and Funcinpec in January last year.
“Now we have working groups and provincial officials in place,” he said. “Next we have plans to go and meet people in the rural areas.”
Long-time Funcinpec loyalist Bun Chhay split from the party on February 3 this year despite claiming he had put aside his differences with Ranariddh.
KNUP and Funcinpec are now embroiled in a turf war over buildings and offices held by Funcinpec, with Bun Chhay claiming senior Funcinpec members who defected to KNUP were legal owners of buildings that housed Funcinpec offices and would now transfer to KNUP.