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Ranariddh weighs in on border, NGO law

Prince Ranariddh greets people at Phnom Penh International Airport
Prince Ranariddh greets people at Phnom Penh International Airport earlier this week after returning from an oversea trip. Heng Chivoan

Ranariddh weighs in on border, NGO law

Royalist party leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh has finally waded into the disputes over the demarcation of the Cambodia-Vietnam border and a controversial draft law on NGOs and associations.

Funcinpec party president Ranariddh said during yesterday’s celebrations of Queen Mother Norodom Monineath’s 79th birthday that the government was obligated to protect the country’s “national sovereignty”.

“It is an obligation of the government to send diplomatic notes to Vietnam about the ponds that have been dug. I am not praising the Cambodia National Rescue Party, but I am thankful for the government and the Cambodian people” that Vietnam has been called out on the issue, he said.

Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly, earlier wrote to the CNRP to disallow a planned press conference due to be held today in parliament about the border dispute, saying the party hadn’t gotten permission to travel to the border in the first place.

“The National Assembly did not issue a mission letter to His Excellency [lawmaker Mao Monyvann] to go down to work on this affair, so I do not allow him to hold a press conference in the Palace of National Assembly,” Heng Samrin wrote.

Ranariddh also criticised the draft law on NGOs and associations, which he said Funcinpec would not advocate for if it had won seats in parliament at the last election.

“In the matter of the draft law on NGOs, I don’t have a voice to debate this in the National Assembly. But in terms of Funcinpec’s political platform, we would give full rights to NGOs to debate laws and be involved in establishing organisations and their functions,” he said. “When I have a seat, I will work to create a huge role for NGOs.”

Chea Vannath, an independent analyst, said that the opposition CNRP and Funcinpec parties had made the issues of the Vietnam border dispute and the draft NGO law key political platforms ahead of the upcoming commune elections in 2017 and the next general election in 2018.

“The current challenges between the ruling party and the opposition parties over the border issues and draft NGO law are not happening by accident,” she said.