Princess Arun Rasmey attends a Funcinpec Party meeting in October 2007 with her husband, Keo Puth Rasmey (L). Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
Committee members of the royalist political party Funcinpec have decided to nominate Princess Norodom Arun Rasmey, the youngest daughter of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, as their president and candidate for prime minister in July’s national elections.
Funcinpec spokesman Tum Sambol said yesterday the decision was made over the weekend and Rasmey came from a political background with an impeccable résumé that includes a 2008 run for the premier’s seat and the current ambassadorship to Malaysia.
“We selected Princess Arun Rasmey as our premier candidate to encourage women into politics, and, secondly, she has never had negative experience. Thirdly, she is the daughter of the late King Father,” he said.
Sambol added that Rasmey will be officially elected during the party congress in March.
Her family, Funcinpec and Cambodian politics have all entwined since Sihanouk first founded the royalist party in 1981. Rasmey’s husband, Keo Puth Rasmey, was a one-time president of Funcinpec. Her brother, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, led the Funcinpec party to electoral victory in the 1993 UNTAC-sponsored elections.
Ranariddh was co-prime minister in the “two headed” government with Hun Sen for four years until 1997, when Hun Sen ousted him during bloody factional fighting.
Since then the party’s fortunes have faltered, with repeated decline in the number of National Assembly seats. When Ranariddh set out on his own with the Norodom Ranariddh Party, the venture came to naught in an acrimonious attempt to merge with Funcinpec last year.
Kuol Panha, executive director of local election monitoring group the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said yesterday Funcinpec would benefit from female candidates, but the party must have a clear political platform on women’s issues.
Tep Nytha, secretary general of the National Election Committee, said 53 per cent of all eligible voters are women.
To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at [email protected]st.com