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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Royalists nominate princess for PM slot

Royalists nominate princess for PM slot

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royalists.jpg

Keo Puth Rasmey, left, party president and his wife Princess Norodom Arun Rasmey at the congress on October 18.

Several hundred members of Funcinpec voted by raised hands at the party congress

at Chaktomuk Theater October 18 to nominate Princess Norodom Arun Rasmey - youngest

daughter of the King Father - as their candidate for prime minister in July 27, 2008

national elections.

Princess Rasmey is the party's first woman candidate for prime minister. She currently

is Cambodia's ambassador to Malaysia.

"We selected princess Arun Rasmey as our premier candidate to encourage women

into politics. Secondly she has never had any experience involving corruption or

nepotism. Thirdly she is the daughter of the King Father," said Nhiek Bun Chhay,

Secretary General of Funcinpec and Deputy Prime Minister.

In a speech to the congress, he described Arun Rasmey as a key supporter in the history

of the royalist party and struggle for democracy.

Keo Puth Rasmey, party president, announced that the party has 3,098 members within

the National Council of the party as the main decision making body on national and

international political affairs. It has 128 members on its Steering Committee.

"We took one year to make party reform for eliminating nepotism and corruption

within the party, and now it brings us a good opportunity to participate in upcoming

elections. But it is not good enough for an electoral victory. We need more unity

of our party members," Rasmey said.

Bun Chhay said that Funcinpec is now stepping forward to build a real democracy with

a party president elected for a five-year term. Bun Chhay said that no political

party in Cambodia has adopted term limits for their party president except for Funcinpec.

Arun's brother Prince Norodom Ranariddh was co-prime minister in the "two headed"

government with Hun Sen for four years until a coup in 1997.

Arun Rasmey's husband, Keo Puth Rasmey, has been president of Funcinpec since last

October 2006, replacing Ranariddh.

She was born Oct. 2, 1955 and married Prince Sisowath Sirirath. They had three children.

In early 1991 Arun Rasmey married a second time in Beijing to Puth Rasmey.

Bun Chhay referred to the rift with Ranariddh a year earlier. "I deeply regret

that some members of the party were incited to have a division of the party causing

the party to decline in the elections," Bun Chhay said.

"We are now trying to build a good friend with Cambodian People's Party (CPP)

in order to ensure political stability and to maintain jobs for our members in the

coalition government."

Ranariddh led the party to electoral victory in the UNTAC-sponsored elections in

May 1993, and became the First Prime Minister of Cambodia until his violent ouster

in July 1997.

Since then, the party's fortunes have continuously faltered with repeated declines

in the number of National Assembly seats won in national elections in 1998 and 2003,

and substantial thrashing in commune elections in 2004.

Ranariddh was criticized for poor performance and accused of making appointments

of unqualified individuals, and that his mistress, Ouk Phalla, was a moral embarrassment.

The criticism caused the prince to resign as President of the National Assembly on

March 14, 2006. Since then, Ranariddh has spent most of his time out of the country.

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