Prince Norodom Sirivudh officially ascended to his new post of Funcinpec
Secretary-General on July 5 by advocating a strictly non-confrontational style
of relations with its Cambodian People's Party (CPP) coalition
Sirivudh replaced Tol Lah, who retains his positions of
Minister of Education and Deputy Prime Minister.
"We need stability and
peace but at the same time we have to strengthen ourselves through kindness of
character," Sirivudh said in an address to approximately 300 Funcinpec members
gathered at the party's Phnom Penh headquarters for the appointment ceremony.
"[A] democratic system will bring us in competition [with the CPP], but I will
say friendly competition, not violence, and this competition must absolutely not
lead to a confrontation."
The appointment marks a political rebirth for
Sirivudh, half-brother of King Norodom Sihanouk, who since receiving a Jan 1999
Royal pardon for allegedly plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Hun Sen in
February 1996, has helmed the strictly apolitical Cambodian Institute for
Co-operation and Peace.
"Sirivudh told me that he has learned from bitter
past experience and now [has] understood [that] co-operation between Funcinpec
and the CPP are neccessary," Prince Nordom Ranariddh said on July 3 of
Sirivudh's return to politics.
Sirivudh's appointment is viewed by
observers as an attempt to unify the party and boost its flagging popularity
ahead of both the Feb, 2002 commune elections and national elections in 2003.