Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Going back to his roots



Going back to his roots

Prince Norodom Ranariddh speaks during a press conference at his home in 2013.
Prince Norodom Ranariddh speaks during a press conference at his home in 2013. Hong Menea

Going back to his roots

Prince Norodom Ranariddh is leaving his newly formed political party and returning to the one that he led decades ago.

In a letter addressed to current Funcinpec leaders Nhek Bun Chhay and Princess Arun Rasmey, Ranariddh confirmed his intention to once again take the party’s reins.

“I am honoured and delighted to be Funcinpec president upon your request to continue leading our party again,” the letter reads.

Though the letter offered no further details, a source, who asked not to be named, said that Ranariddh had made the decision to return to Funcinpec – which he led to victory in Cambodia’s landmark 1993 elections – with the involvement of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Prince Ranariddh agreed to return to lead Funcinpec soon after the prime minister’s negotiations,” the source said, before declining to elaborate. “The Queen Mother and the King have been informed of that information.”

Ranariddh will be meeting to officially inform the royal family today, he added.

A second source who maintains close ties to Ranariddh’s new Community of Royalist People’s Party (CRPP) said that Ranariddh, Funcinpec president Norodom Arun Rasmey and Hun Sen met yesterday at his villa, and that the premier had urged Ranariddh to return to Funcinpec to unify the royalist political front

Keo Puthreaksmey, head of the supreme council of the Funcinpec Party and husband of Arun Rasmey, declined to comment beyond confirming that today “Funcipec delegates will pay a courtesy call to the King”.

Likewise, Tom Sambol, who left Funcinpec to join Ranariddh’s fledgling CRPP less than a month ago, declined to comment on the matter, saying late last night that he was “in a meeting with Prince Ranariddh”.

An aide who answered Ranariddh’s phone last night also said that the prince was busy in a meeting.

Eang Sophalleth, an aide to Hun Sen, said he had no knowledge of the meeting with the premiere.

Despite once being Cambodia’s first prime minister – with Hun Sen in the role of “second prime minister” – Ranariddh has been largely sidelined in the political sphere in recent years. He was ousted from Funcinpec in 2006 and went on to form the eponymous Norodom Ranariddh Party, before leaving that to form the CRPP.

Over the course of the same period, the strength of royalist influence in Cambodian politics has waned. In the 2013 national elections, Funcinpec – the only royalist party competing – failed to secure a single seat in parliament.

It was not immediately apparent if Ranariddh’s latest move will entail a full merger of the two parties. He was unavailable for comment late last night.

When asked what interest would Hun Sen have in a revived royalist party, political analyst Chea Vannath ventured that the move could have the effect of weakening Cambodia’s monarchy.

“The prince is part of the monarchy, and it could damage the future of the monarchy itself, because it’s conflicting interests for the monarchy to be involved in politics,” she said. “This already happened in the past; the monarchy was affected by politics. So, for me, it’s not just a resurrection of Funcinpec, but it might go further, to [affect] the monarchy.”

“I do not jump to any conclusions, but the fact is, in the past, the monarchy was very shaky,” she added. “It is still.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA AND MAY TITTHARA

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American

  • Lost in translation: ‘Starvation’ in capital’s designated red zones

    “DACH bay” is a Khmer slang meaning a “loss of income”, that could also be literally translated to «deprived of rice”, which alludes to starvation. However, civil society organisation (CSO) officials have independently confirmed the government’s prior assertions that there are no cases of