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Ranariddh expels trio for party merger plot

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Prince Norodom Ranariddh during Funcinpec’s extraordinary congress in Phnom Penh in 2017. Heng Chivoan

Ranariddh expels trio for party merger plot

Prince Norodom Ranariddh, president of the Funcinpec political party, has announced that three senior officials are no longer members or otherwise associated with Funcinpec after they used the name in an attempt to merge with the Khmer National United Party (KNUP) recently.

The decision came during a virtual meeting of Funcinpec leaders on September 24 and followed a press conference held by KNUP president Nhek Bun Chhay to announce the merger on September 22.

In a press release, Prince Ranariddh said Funcinpec decided to expel the three officials – Heng Chantha, Say Hak and Phan Sethy – for holding an unauthorised meeting of the party’s board of directors hosted by Chap Nhalyvuth on September 17 in violation of the party’s statutes filed at the Ministry of Interior.

It said the unscheduled meeting of the board was an attempt to merge Funcinpec with KNUP without first receiving Prince Ranariddh’s permission or even consulting him on the move.

“They did not abide by the party’s statutes. They committed acts of dishonesty that caused discord within the Funcinpec party and slandered the reputation of [Prince Ranariddh] and his family members, all for their own benefit,” the press release said.

On September 22, the three renegade Funcinpec officials announced that their party would merge with KNUP, and Bun Chhay said at the time that the merger came following several rounds of negotiations between the two sides to resolve a number of outstanding issues between them to allow the two parties to unite.

The statements made by the Funcinpec officials and KNUP’s Bun Chhay at the time seemed to indicate that all of Funcinpec’s party leaders, including Ranariddh, were on board with the move.

At the meeting to expel the three officials, Prince Ranariddh urged the party’s leaders to continue their efforts at grassroots organising and building a strong political base while it undergoes a process of restructuring and prepares its list of candidates for the 2022 commune council elections.

One of the officials accused of misconduct and expelled from the party –former deputy secretary-general Phan Sethy – told The Post on September 28 that he rejected the decisions made at the meeting by Prince Ranariddh and the other party leaders completely. He contended that they were done in violation of the party’s internal rules and regulations.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, was sceptical that Funcinpec would win any votes in the elections if its internal issues are not resolved.

“I don’t think Funcinpec has much hope of getting significant support from the people because the results of the last elections seemed to indicate that voters had lost confidence in the party. But hopefully they will develop a new platform and policy proposals and find new strategies to bring some momentum back to their party again,” he said.

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