Former Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh has rebuffed a request from the Funcinpec and Nationalist parties that he resurrect his tumultuous political career.
Chea Chanboribo, Ranariddh’s spokesman, said the prince was content to fulfill his role as an adviser to his half-brother, King Norodom Sihamoni, and to spend his free time pursuing charitable projects.
“Samdech Krom Preah Prince Norodom Ranariddh has reaffirmed that he will not return to politics, despite the request from the officials of Funcinpec and the Nationalist Party,” Chea Chanboribo said, using Ranariddh’s honourific.
“He has to play an independent role at the Royal Palace.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nhek Bun Chhay, the secretary general of Funcinpec, said on Monday that most Funcinpec and NP members supported the return of Ranariddh to politics, but that there was no timetable for such a return at the moment. Funcinpec and the Nationalist Party are in talks to reunite following the 2013 national elections, he said.
“We will invite the prince to lead the party, and whether or not he accepts our proposal depends on him, but we would be happy to welcome the prince back to politics,” Nhek Bun Chhay said.
NP spokesman Pen Sangha was similarly enthusiastic.
“We want to see the reunification of the party, and I think that if the prince returns to lead, there would be great hope for the royalist party,” Pen Sangha said.
Prince Ranariddh has close connections to both parties, having led Funcinpec to victory in the 1993 elections before being ousted from its leadership in 2006 and forming the Norodom Ranariddh Party, later renamed the Nationalist Party.
In an interview with Rasmey Kampuchea newspaper published in January, Ranariddh said he was ready to serve the government if called upon by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“I have always been prepared – anytime, any day. I have a title to accompany the King, but I have long prepared myself for government service,” he said in the interview.
“If Samdech wants to call me anytime, even if I am not in the country, I have the ability to return.”
Ranariddh returned from exile in Malaysia in September 2008 after receiving a royal pardon for a 2007 fraud conviction in connection with the embezzlement of funds from the sale of Funcinpec property.
He was ousted from his position as First Prime Minister by Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party during factional fighting in 1997.