FUNCINPEC Secretary General Nhek Bun Chhay denied on Sunday reports of a change in leadership and mass defections in the party, calling them unfounded rumours spread by former loyalists who had joined the ruling Cambodian People's Party for personal gain.
"There is no movement to replace the current party president, Keo Puth Rasmey," he told the Post, saying that only Keo Kosal and his son had defected to the CPP - and not twenty Funcinpec officials, as reported by Khmer-language media. A former Funcinpec resistance commander and long-time critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Serey Kosal last week announced his defection to the ruling party.
"I am not interested in the words of unprofessional politicians who left the party in order to get a position in the government," said Nhek Bun Chhay, who is also a deputy prime minister.
But Ok Socheat, an adviser to Funcinpec President Keo Puth Rasmey, said that a faction in the party had been pushing to oust his boss "because of the party's poor performance" in the national elections in July, in which the party experienced dramatic losses.
Serey Kosal refused to comment on the number of Funcinpec officials who would join him in defecting but critized his former party for espousing policies that failed to address the concerns of the population.