Funcinpec acting president Prince Norodom Chakravuth is facing a lawsuit from some 85 per cent of party members after he released a statement removing four officials from their posts and announcing the closure of party headquarters in Chroy Changvar commune.
Former Funcipec spokesman Nub Sothearith – among the four to be relieved of duty – told reporters at a press conference on Saturday that Prince Chakravuth had ordered more than 30 security personnel to surround the headquarters after the decision was made public, but could not elaborate on the Prince’s decision.
The closure of the headquarters has raised fears among Funcipec members that they may not be able to stand in future elections, prompting some 85 per cent of them to prepare a formal complaint with the Ministry of Interior to ensure that they are still officially candidates, according to Sothearith.
“We hope this will achieve a positive result because we think that Cambodia has enough laws [on the books] to resolve these issues,” he said, adding that members also hoped to be provided with a reason for the decision.
Huon Huot, a Funcipec member of the Kandal provincial working group, told The Post that he had arrived at the party headquarters to attend the bi-annual meeting only to find the building closed and be forbidden from entering the premises.
Huot said although he was aware of rumours regarding a possible unification with the Nhek Bun Chhay-led Khmer National United Party (KNUP), he could not reveal why Prince Chakravuth had made such the decision.
In September, the Rasmei Kampuchea reported that Bun Chhay and Funcipec president Prince Norodom Ranariddh had met in Phnom Penh to discuss a potential party merger before the sale of Funcipec’s Mondulkiri headquarters.
Bun Chhay and a handful of loyalists left the Funcipec banner in 2016 to form KNUP in an attempt to mount a stronger opposition to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
“I am concerned because there had been many political mergers but they did not benefit or help the party grow.
“Instead, the mergers made the party worse and almost dissolved it due to internal division. Besides, the party should not join those who almost destroyed it.
“We came for our bi-annual meeting, not to protest against unification with [the KNUP], but the prince disrupted the meeting,” Huot said.
The Post could not reach Prince Chakravuth for comment in time for publication.
However, Chakravuth’s statement said: “The Funcinpec party has the honour to inform all members of the party and the public that the Funcinpec’s headquarters [in Chroy Changvar commune] must temporarily cease its activities and close, effective from the date of this notice.”
Sothearith accused Prince Chakravuth of violating Article 24 of the party’s statute, adding that Funcipec members last convened for its Permanent Committee meeting on November 17.
Four officials – Sothearith, who served as deputy secretary-general and spokesman; secretary-general Pech Sochetha; deputy secretary-general Ros Saphorn; and cabinet director Kang Boran were also removed from the party.