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Prince makes case to royalists

Prince Norodom Ranariddh greets members of his political party yesterday during an event in Phnom Penh to mark the fifth anniversary of the Norodom Ranariddh Party.

In a rare public speech yesterday, former first Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh appealed to those who supported the royalist Funcinpec party in 1993 to reunite with the Norodom Ranariddh Party to aim for a coalition government with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party after the 2013 national election.

Speaking in front of about 700 party members at the Phnom Penh Mondial Centre for the NRP’s fifth anniversary, the prince said the party would campaign to gain votes from the Human Rights Party, Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party, as some of their members and supporters were once monarchists, but promised to also net CPP votes.

“[The goal of] my political career is to lead the real royalist party and monarchists to be strong national forces and to serve for the nation,” Prince Ranariddh said.

Ranariddh also blasted Funcinpec secretary-general Nhek Bun Chhay, who led a coup to topple him from the party presidency in 2006, claiming that the move was traitorous and an attempt to eliminate the monarchy.

The prince has previously alleged that Nhek Bun Chhay embezzled funds from the sale of the party’s headquarters. Prince Ranariddh retired from politics in 2008, but returned to the fray in December last year to head the NRP, formerly known as the Nationalist party.

“My heart is not to take revenge, but the move now is to reunite monarchists from the 1993 election to move back [to the NRP] for the upcoming election in 2013,” Ranariddh said.

The NRP currently hold two of a total 123 seats in the National Assembly and claim that Funcinpec – which was then headed by Prince Ranariddh  –  was victim to a power-sharing arrangement with the CPP after the 1993 election.

As first prime minister in a coalition government with then-second Prime Minister Hun Sen in 1997, Ranariddh’s Funcinpec forces were ousted by the CPP in brutal infighting that resulted in the deaths of dozens of people.

Funcinpec spokesman Tum Sambol said yesterday that Ranariddh’s move would not affect his party.

“The move does not affect Funcinpec, because the party members clearly understand his [Ranariddh’s] political attitude,” said Sambol.

HRP spokesman Pol Ham said that his party had no confidence in Ranariddh’s policy to bring back supporters.

“I believe that [because of] the political background of Ranariddh, [the NRP] will not be able to gain votes from other parties,” Pol Ham said.



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