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NRP denies deal for Ranariddh's return

NRP denies deal for Ranariddh's return

NORODOM Ranariddh Party (NRP) officials Thursday dismissed suggestions that their sudden decision to accept the results of last month's election was made in exchange for the return of party leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who is in exile in Malaysia but faces arrest if he comes home.

The reversal, announced Tuesday, was "a decision made by the whole party" after it determined that the polls had been fair, and not part of a deal to get the prince back to Cambodia, NRP spokesman Muth Chantha said.

Party Deputy President Chhim Siek Leng told the Post that he had "heard talk" of a possible amnesty for Ranariddh if he agreed to leave politics, but said it was only speculation at this point.

The prince faces 18 months in prison for fraud after being found guilty of illegally selling the headquarters of his former party, Funcinpec, and pocketing the proceeds.

CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the ruling party had no intention of trading an amnesty for Ranariddh's withdrawal from politics, adding that Funcinpec would have to withdraw its legal complaint if the prince hoped to remain a free man when he returned.

After joining other opposition parties in rejecting the results of the July 27 polls, in which it won two National Assembly seats, the NRP's abrupt U-turn raised suspicions that the prince was manoeuvring for a comeback.

"Elections and alliances between opposition parties always make people suspicious of the NRP as Ranariddh has the habit of abandoning his partners to get some benefit from Hun Sen," said civil society leader Thun Saray. 

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