A coalition of seven non-government organizations has called on the government to order the withdrawal of legal complaints against Prince Norodom Ranariddh so he and his party can participate in the July 27 general election.
“It is necessary for all political parties who are preparing themselves for participation in the election to have an opportunity for full and equal competitions,” the groups said in a joint statement released on May 8.
“The Prince has to stay outside the country due to a pending criminal case in the court. So far, there has been no attempt for a political resolution that would allow him to return to Cambodia and to fully participate in the elections,” the statement said.
The groups urged the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and its coalition partner, Funcinpec, to reach a compromise that would allow Ranariddh, who is living in self-imposed exile, to return home and campaign on behalf of his eponymous political party.
However, Thun Saray, the president of one of the groups, the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (Adhoc), said he did not expect that the CPP would compromise on the issue.
And the first vice president of Ranariddh’s former party Funcinpec, Lu Laysreng, told the Post on May 15 he was opposed to any political resolution that would pave the way for the prince’s return.
Laysreng said the NGOs should put their request to the courts, rather than to the parties in the coalition government.
Ranariddh was expelled from Funcinpec in October 2006 over allegations of poor performance during the general election three years earlier. After he subsequently resigned as President of the National Assembly, Funcinpec filed two lawsuits against him.
One of the lawsuits alleging that he committed adultery is still before the courts. The court ruled against him in the other suit, which accused him of profiting illegally from the sale of the party’s headquarters.
Ranariddh, who has been living in Malaysia and France, formed the Norodom Ranariddh Party soon after he was expelled from Funcinpec.
A CPP lawmaker, Cheam Yeap, said his party could not respond to the call from the groups because it was unable to interfere in the internal affairs of another party.
“This is an issue between Funcinpec and the prince,” he said.
Apart from Adhoc, the groups that signed the statement are the Center for Social Development, the Cambodian Defenders’ Project, the Khmer Institute for Democracy, the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia and the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia.