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Ranariddh quits politics

P1_ranariddh_quits.jpg
P1_ranariddh_quits.jpg

AFP

Prince Norodom Ranariddh announces his departure from politics Thursday at the Himawari Hotel in Phnom Penh.

PRINCE Norodom Ranariddh announced his resignation from politics Thursday night and called on other opposition parties to support the new government.

"I met the King this morning and I told him that I quit politics," the 64-year-old Prince told some 60 journalists at a dinner at the Himawari Hotel in Phnom Penh.

"I am no longer an opposition party leader. I have come back to Cambodia and I want to serve my nation."

He added that "the opposition in Cambodia should compromise and recognise the results of the election. This is for the life of the nation".

The Norodom Ranariddh Party intitially rejected the results of the July 27 polls along with the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties.

His decision brings to a close a 17-year career in politics that began with a resounding victory in the UN-sponsored polls in 1993 under Funicnpec and foundered with his self-titled party claiming just two seats in this year's  elections.

"I am preparing myself to take a rest for a while and I may transfer power as the president of the NRP to my deputy," Ranariddh said, without identifying his deputy.

The Prince, who returned Sunday from 18 months of self-imposed exile in Malaysia after receiving a Royal Amnesty requested by Prime Minister Hun Sen, said he fully supports the new Cambodian People's Party  government.

"I am a democrat, and I have to respect the results of the elections," Ranariddh said.

The Prince fled the country after a Phnom Penh municipal court sentenced him in absentia to 18 months in jail for embezzling money from the sale of Funcinpec headquarters.

Earlier on Thursday Hun Sen  had warned NRP officials not to waste their time pushing for appointments in the new government.

"There are no positions for NRP members in the government. I never considered that there would be," Hun Sen said during a ceremony at the National Institute of Education.

Ranariddh's retirement from politics further consolidates the CPP's grip on power as it farewells one of Hun Sen's oldest opponents.

"The prince is not thinking about government positions," NRP spokesman Suth Dina told the Post Thursday morning, adding, "He is thinking about a good relationship with Prime Minister Hun Sen and how best to serve the nation."

SRP Deputy Secretary General Mu Sochua said the Prince's departure was "not surprising". 

"I think it was a part of the deal for him to come back home and I think it is a wise choice considering the results of the NRP in the election," she said.

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