Funcinpec marked its 20th anniversary during it's annual congress on March 20-21
by reaffirming its intentions to continue close co-operation with the ruling Cambodian
People's Party. The two day congress devoted itself to a re-emphasis of Funcinpec's
ties to the CPP in the interests of what Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh
termed "peace and national recon-ciliation".
Congress observers could be forgiven for believing they'd stumbled onto a joint
Fun-CPP event, with guest appear-ances by Prime Minister Hun Sen and H.E. Minister
of CoM Sok An provoking long, warm applause from the Funcinpec delegates. The Funcinpec
strategy apparently paid off, with Prince Sisowath Sirirath, Co-Minister of Defense
and a member of Funcinpec's Steering Committee telling the Post on March 28 that
one day after the congress Hun Sen announced during a Council of Ministers meeting
that the Fun-CPP coalition government should continue regardless of which party wins
the 2003 election. The Funcinpec decision to continue its power-sharing relationship
with the CPP is a glaring contrast to the tensions that characterized relations between
the party for years prior to the formation of the current government in 1998.
Relations between the two parties reached their nadir with the 1997 coup that
deposed then-First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh and resulted in the torture
and murder of dozens of Funcinpec loyalists. Funcinpec Deputy Secretary General Kem
Sokha said close relations with the CPP were necessary to reduce election violence.
Prince Norodom Sirivudh, is expected to replace Minister of Education Tol Lah
as the party's Secretary General.