The royalist FUNCINPEC party is in the midst of a dispute regarding who should take over as party president following the death of Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
The death of the prince on November 28 this year was soon followed by an announcement that a party congress would take place in January, 2022, in order to appoint Ranariddh’s eldest son Prince Norodom Chakravuth as president.
However, a meeting of the party’s board of directors was recently convened where some board members indicated their displeasure with the earlier announcement, claiming that it was against the party’s rules and the relevant legal statutes.
Complicating matters is the fact that the late Prince Ranariddh had expelled the board of directors from the party years ago, calling into question their right to convene officially on behalf of the party and make decisions.
FUNCINPEC spokesman Nhoeun Raden told The Post on December 14 that the “former board members” filed a complaint in court at one point over the expulsion but the court has yet to process it.
Now, he said, if the former board continues to act as if it were doing so on behalf of the party despite the expulsion of its members, then the party’s response will be to file a countersuit over their continued efforts to mislead the public and interfere in the party’s internal affairs.
He added that the party will go ahead with its plans to hold a congress in January and appoint Chakravuth as president.
Raden said the law states that after the absence of the party’s president for any reason for 60 days, any person who has received a letter of authorisation to take over from the previous president will assume the office and in this case that person is Chakravuth.
The letter was sent to the Ministry of Interior on November 22 in accordance with the law, he said, and the matter now stands pending a party congress to recognise him formally.
However, Phan Sethy, who claimed to be the spokesman for FUNCINPEC’s board of directors, said filing a complaint against his group was the legal right of Chakravuth’s side and if they do so then the court can follow the law and decide who is right or wrong and his side will respect the decision.
Yong Pov, a professor of political science at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, recalled that FUNCINPEC was very strong when it entered political arena back in 1993 but in the years since then, it has been torn apart by endless internal problems caused by its own members rather than attacks by outsiders and is no longer a serious contender in the Kingdom’s elections.
“FUNCINPEC used to be the biggest party, winning the most seats in the National Assembly, but it has run out of support and lost all of its seats,” he said.
Pov said that if FUNCINPEC cannot solve its own internal disagreements and campaign with a unified membership and platform, it has little chance of winning the hearts of the people who want to see a party come together and show strength before placing their trust in it.