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PM warns prince: no nepotism

PM warns prince: no nepotism

090107_03.jpg
090107_03.jpg

Rehabilitated Prince Ranariddh was appointed the King’s most senior adviser, but the PM used a public speech to warn him not to dole out favours

Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN

Prime Minister Hun Sen greets supporters at the inauguration of a bridge in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday warned Prince Norodom Ranariddh against abusing his new position atop the King's royal council to dole out privileges to his supporters.

King Norodom Sihamoni appointed his half-brother Ranariddh as Chief of High Advisers to the King, a post equivalent in rank to that of prime minister, in a royal decree leaked last month that also gave palace council positions to 25 other members of the royal family.

While he acknowledged the ceremonial significance of Ranariddh's post, which will give him the same salary as the prime minister, the bottom line, he said, was that "it has no power".

"There are a number of people trying to be recruited to work with Ranariddh. This is wrong, but maybe the prince is not aware of it," Hun Sen added.

The prince and his camp have repeatedly denied allegations of nepotism and immediately lashed back at the Khmer-language newspaper Moneaksekar Khmer after, in an article last month, it alleged the prince had requested the prime minister provide him with a mansion in front of the Royal Palace and asked for the appointments of 200 of his supporters to the King's Cabinet.

"There is no recruitment. The prince told me to keep quiet, and he cannot guarantee anything for his supporters," Chea Chanboribo, Ranariddh's spokesman, said. "Even me, I work as his helper."

In his speech, the prime minister also took jabs at the prince for what he described as backhanded attempts to gain power.

Ranariddh was ousted from his position as co-prime minister when troops loyal to his royalist party clashed with troops loyal to Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) in 1997.

Power hungry?  

"Ranariddh and Nhek Bun Chhay signed a deal with Khmer Rouge Khieu Samphan in 1997 to test the power (of the CPP), but they lost..." he said.

Ranariddh quit politics after seeing his career spiral downwards at the hand, observers say, of Hun Sen.

But he insisted his appointment had nothing to do with his decision to retire. Rather, it was the CPP's overwhelming victory in July national polls that caused him to leave the political arena.

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