The secretary-general of former General Nhek Bun Chhay’s Khmer National Unity Party will lead senior members to defect back to Funcinpec, he said yesterday, after some members of the breakaway party were dismissed from their government positions.
Chan Nora, the KNUP secretary-general, said that on Saturday he told Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the president of Funcinpec, of his decision to defect back to the royalist party from which the KNUP split in February 2016 after Bun Chhay and Ranariddh again fell out.
Other members of the KNUP board would follow him to Funcinpec, he said, but he declined to give a number. As an adviser to the Agriculture Ministry, Nora also acknowledged the switch was “to secure the position”, but added that it was “not that big of a deal”.
Twelve KNUP members were dismissed from their positions earlier this month in the wake of Bun Chhay’s dismissal from his own position last month, a move the government has blamed on his lack of loyalty and alleged overtures to the opposition party.
Funcinpec spokesman Nhep Bun Chin said that the royalist party – a former coalition partner of the Cambodian People’s Party whose members still hold government positions – understood the situation of the defectors, and would accept them.
“They were grateful to Nhek Bun Chhay when they received government positions some years ago, so when he created the party, they joined,” Bun Chhin said. “When there are problems in his party, they have no choice but to return back to the royalist party.”
A KNUP official who declined to give his name said the party was not in death throes after its secretary-general’s defection.
“We have thousands of members,” the official said.