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NRP Reported Sacking Sparks Internal Conflict

A senior Norodom Ranariddh Party official was reportedly removed from her position Friday, marking a potential rift within the party’s ranks, officials said.

Meas Sokun, the NRP chief in Banteay Meanchey province and a member of the steering committee, was fired by the party’s governing council, following statements insults and “impolite words” for Prince Norodom Ranariddh during a meeting on Saturday, according to a statement released to the media Friday.

But the party’s official spokesman, Suth Dina, who is also a deputy secretary-general, said the governing council had not consulted with the steering committee, and therefore Meas Sokun was retaining her position.

At least one top NRP official, who asked not to be named, said the firing was a legitimate decision by the governing council.

Suth Dina said the group opposed to the firing would now appeal to the Ministry of Interior to bar the Norodom Ranariddh Party from the country.

The differing accounts of the two top officials marked a potential split in the party among those close to Prince Ranariddh, who formed the party ahead of commune elections in 2007, and newcomers close to Suth Dina, who brought his own Khmer National Front party into NRP ranks at its formation.

Neither NRP President Chhim Seakleng nor Secretary-General You Hokry could not be reached for comment Friday.

Meas Sokun denied insulting the prince and said she was keeping her position. She said some members of the party had spoken ill of her to the prince, who now misunderstood her.

“They accuse of me of making trouble in the party, but I’m not troublesome,” she said. “I haven’t done anything troublesome.”

Prince Ranariddh retired from his party shortly after his return from exile in September 2008. He had been found guilty of breach of trust, and refused to return to Cambodia until he was granted a royal pardon.

He is now chief adviser to King Norodom Sihamoni, his brother, and he retains a number of loyal followers within his old party.