Thursday, August 17, 2006

Will F'pec be bold enough to stand up to Hun Sen's threat?

Thursday, August 17, 2006
F'pec Says It Will Defy PM, Greet Prince

By Yun Samean

More than 1,000 Funcinpec officials will welcome royalist party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh back to Phnom Penh Saturday, defying a stern warning from Prime Minister Hun Sen that their attendance will cost them their jobs in government, officials said Wednesday.

Chea Chanboribo, spokesman for the prince, said that royalist officials do not need to adhere to Hun Sen's threat and can attend the ceremony at Funcinpec headquarters, as it is the weekend and they are not needed at work.

"It is Saturday, it is not related to government work," he said.

Funcinpec provincial governors, deputy governors, commune councilors and other officials will all be present to welcome the prince back after his five-month hiatus. Chea Chanboribo added.

Speaking in Phnom Penh Tuesday, Hun Sen said that he will fire provincial Funcinpec officials if they attend the gathering, as well as the royalist officials who invited them. Attending the welcoming ceremony for the prince was a waste of time and Funcinpec government officials could better spend their time serving the public, Hun Sen said.

He also denied he had invited the prince back to Cambodia, as the prince claimed in a recent radio interview.

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said that the prime minister will ultimately decide the fate of those who choose to attend the gathering.

He added that Hun Sen's warning was not a threat, but was meant merely as a means to strengthen the royalist party's resolve.

"Hun Sen wants to have a strong partner," he explained.

Some royalist officials were heeding the warning.

Funcinpec's Sihanoukville Municipal Governor Say Hak said he would be simply too busy to welcome Prince Ranariddh.

"I am very busy working with the people to protect them from flooding. I think that is more important," he said.

He also said that he felt more inclined to follow orders from Hun Sen than from his own party.

"He is the head of the government I must comply with him," Say Hak said. "We have to be disciplined."

Funcinpec's Kompong Speu Provincial Governor Chap Nhalivuth said he was undecided about whether to greet the prince in person, and noted that his province faced pressing problems with floods.

"On Saturday and Sunday it is our right but in these circumstances we are facing the floods. As the governor, I must stay," he said.

Retired King Norodom Sihanouk has also moved to distance himself politically from his son in recent days.

In a statement from Siem Reap dated Monday, Norodom Sihanouk confirmed that the prince would soon be coming to meet with him. But he added, "With my beloved son, [Prince] Ranariddh, I shall have no counsel, no suggestion to give him."

The prince will spend two nights in Siem Reap with his father starting Thursday, Chea Chanboribo said.

The retired King also stated that he will not interfere with any political parties, the government, the National Assembly, the police, or the armed forces. "FUNCINPEC no longer belongs to me. And it has not since the year 1991," he wrote.

Hang Puthea, director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections in Cambodia, said Funcinpec is demonstrating its independence from its coalition partner by standing up to Hun Sen.

"Funcinpec is showing that it is still following the party's leader and that Funcinpec is not afraid of the CPP," he said, adding that royalist officials are well within their rights to attend such a ceremony on their days off

(Additional reporting by Yun Samean and Douglas Gillison)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do or don't you die any away.Might as well die in honor and loyalty for a change partymen.