Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has sent a letter to Funcinpec “president” Prince Norodom Ranariddh directing the party to resolve outstanding internal affairs and delay a congress with the Khmer National United Party (KNUP) to discuss a potential merger.
Sar Kheng, who is also deputy prime minister, made the request after the senior leadership of both parties set a December 23 date for Funcinpec to host a meeting and discuss the potential merger.
However, in the letter, Sar Kheng warned that the congress would violate Article 24 of the Funcinpec charter dated September 10, 2018.
On Thursday, ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak asked: “The Funcinpec party plans to hold a congress but how can it do so if it has appointed the president contrary to [its own] statutes?
“The party statutes stipulate that when the president is absent, the vice-president assumes the role of president, but the party has moved to elect another president. Officials are complaining that the party is acting contrary to its statutes.
“When he [Ranariddh] became the acting president, he removed members at his own will. He did so contrary to the party statutes but continued anyway. Once he entered power, his wrongful actions have continued. How can the party hold a congress if its members don’t get along?
“The ministry requests the party to reconcile divisions among members as per its statutes first. The ministry has not been instructed to interfere in the party’s internal affairs.”
KNUP president Nhek Bun Chhay told the media on November 29 that the two parties were discussing the leadership structures of their working groups ahead of the December congress, and had agreed to appoint Ranariddh as Funcinpec president for the talks.
Bun Chhay said some 1,600 members of the two parties, including their senior leadership and Phnom Penh, provincial and national-level councillors would attend to decide on a union between the Kingdom’s two main royalist parties.
Funcinpec deputy president Chhoeng Chamroeun and spokesman Phan Sithy declined to comment on the matter.