Funcinpec Senior Minister Serei Kosal has accused party Secretary-General Nhiek Bun
Chhay of trying to topple the party's President, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, by attempting
to create a rift inside the floundering royalist party.
At a news conference on June 6, Bun Chhay named party members who he said planned
to break away from Funcinpec and form a new political party to be called the Samdech
Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh Party with Ranariddh's image as its logo.
But Bun Chhay also said Ranariddh has denied any intention of forming a new political
Bun Chhay accused Kosal, Prince Norodom Chakrapong and Ranariddh's spokesman Chea
Chanboribo of planning to break away from the Funcinpec. However Kosal denied the
allegation and said it was a fabrication by Bun Chhay.
"I think the allegation made by Nhiek Bun Chhay was a political pretext to bring
together his loyalist members and [further] his ambition to take over as Funcinpec
President," Kosal told the Post on June 13.
Kosal said tensions within Funcinpec were worsening and called on Bun Chhay to resign
within 24 hours.
"Bun Chhay is illegally holding his position as secretary general of Funcinpec
when the members of the party's steering committee have not yet approved him,"
Chakrapong has said he will sue Bun Chhay for defamation for alleging he was involved
in planning a breakaway party.
Chakrapong refused to talk to the Post, saying he did not want to repeat the same
Bun Chhay was cheerfully dismissive of their comments.
"We are not worried, and we are happy and will celebrate for those individuals
who break away from Funcinpec to form another political party," Bun Chhay said.
"They were small party members who are disappointed in my leadership because
they lost their benefits."
"We are not protecting those individuals who created a rift in the party and
caused Funcinpec to lose popularity," Bun Chhay said.
An anonymous statement issued on May 29 by the "Former Funcinpec Resistance
for the Monarchy" appealed to Ranariddh to allow his name to be used for a new
The statement, sent from the Ministry of Information, accused Bun Chhay, Funcinpec
Minister of Rural Development Lu Laysreng, and Funcinpec parliamentarian Ly Thuch
of being the puppets of Prime Minister Hun Sen of the ruling Cambodian People's Party
Kosal said Funcinpec's internal rift had become a public affair because the party
had two spokesmen - Nouv Sovathero was the spokesman appointed by Bun Chhay, while
Chea Chanboribo was Ranariddh's spokesman.
"One party has two spokesmen offering different political points of view,"
Kosal said. "The spokesman appointed by the new party Secretary General, Nhiek
Bun Chhay, is always speaking against the ideas of the President."
Bun Chhay said the removal of about 50 Funcinpec provincial governors and deputy
governors had adversely affected the mood of the party membership. But he said their
removal had been a government reform, not a Funcinpec action.
Ranariddh has been absent from Cambodia for three months. On March 14 he went to
France where he teaches at a law school, a Funcinpec official said.
Several Funcinpec officials contacted by the Post said they did not know when he
would return to Cambodia.
Bun Chhay visited China from May 28 to 31 to strengthen the relationship and cooperation
between Funcinpec and the Chinese Communist Party, according to a press release issued
by Funcinpec on May 26.
"We have supported one China, and China has supported the political cooperation
between Funcinpec and the CPP," Bun Chhay said.