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Funcinpec official ousted after claims

Nhek Bun Chhay, a Funcinpec party member
Nhek Bun Chhay, a Funcinpec party member, talks to the media at Phnom Penh airport in 2012. Heng Chivoan

Funcinpec official ousted after claims

A senior member of Funcinpec has been kicked out of the royalist party after lodging a legal complaint against party leader Nhek Bun Chhay, who he accused of conspiring to illegally sell off the party’s headquarters for personal gain.

Sok Sa Vann, the former steering committee member who filed the complaint on Friday, said yesterday that Funcinpec secretary general Bun Chhay had conspired – along with party president Princess Norodom Arun Rasmey and her husband, Keo Puthrasmey – to sell the property.

“We represent more than 50 members of the party’s steering committee and submitted the complaint to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on [Sunday]. We called on the court to stop Nhek Bun Chhay from selling or exchanging the headquarters,” he said.

Sa Vann maintains that the final decision to sell the building was announced at a December 22 meeting, attended by only 160 of the steering committee’s 340 members – an insufficient number to support the motion.

Bun Chhay responded by announcing that Sa Vann had been expelled from the party following the complaint, adding that he was disgruntled that he had not been offered a position in government.

In a statement released on Sunday, Bun Chhay took pains to distance the party’s broader membership from Sa Vann’s action.

“Sok Sa Vann stands alone, and [the court action] did not reflect the will of all the party members,” the statement read. “Sa Vann is unhappy with the [Funcinpec] leadership, who did not provide him with a position in the government in the fifth mandate. Sa Vann has always defamed the leadership as well as the party.”

“The standing committee decided to revoke Sa Vann’s party membership and study the options for countering the complaint,” the statement continued. “Sa Vann was disappointed with the party leaders who rejected his request to take a position in the government, because he was not loyal to the party.”

Allegations of corruption have dogged Funcinpec for years since its fall from grace in the 2008 elections after Norodom Ranariddh was expelled from the party.

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