Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has requested that FUNCINPEC vice-president Prince Norodom Chakravuth convene a congress to elect a party leader. The request came as the party held an internal meeting and is preparing to hold a congress next month.
In a letter to Prince Chakravuth on January 20, Sar Kheng said the ministry had already accepted FUNCINPEC’s decision dated December 16 to appoint the prince as vice-president under the new Article 59 of the party’s bylaw.
“The ministry suggested that the prince coordinate within the party to hold a congress to elect a party leader under articles 16, 17, 19, 20, 24 and 35 of the party’s statute enshrined at the interior ministry as well as the new Article 19 of the Law on Political Parties,” the letter read.
FUNCINPEC spokesman Nhoeun Raden said on January 24 that after receiving the ministry’s letter, the party and Prince Chakravuth were glad because the ministry clearly understood that only the prince can follow in the footsteps of the late Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who appointed his son as successor to lead the party before his passing in late November.
“So far, Prince Chakravuth has facilitated a number of tasks. As in the past, several leaders and political figures who respect him have written letters showing their absolute support for his leadership,” he said. “The Prince continues to be open to any people who wish to follow him, and looks forward to uniting them all and leading the party to success in the future,” he said.
Raden added that the party was prepared to hold the congress, and had prepared the required documents and planned a date and location. In particular, the congress would be focused on the election of a president, and intended to appoint the prince. The party would also set some important policies and strategies relating to participation in the upcoming commune council elections, as well as a few amendments to its statute.
“We chose the first week of February for the congress. The timetable will be announced later this week,” he said.
Phan Sethy, spokesman of FUNCINPEC Steering Committee, said that on January 24 the party’s executive committee had invited Prince Chakravuth and other party leaders to discuss finding a solution.
“At this meeting, the Steering Committee has the intention of finding a final solution to the leadership issue,” he said.
He added that committee members who belonged to Princess Norodom Arun Rasmey’s faction of the party had indicated they would be present at the meeting, but those loyal to Prince Chakravuth had not yet confirmed if they would attend.