Funcinpec party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh has called on the opposition and ruling parties to form a tripartite coalition with the royalists after Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen embarked on a “honeymoon” after years spent at each others’ throats.
The ageing prince, who recently returned to the helm of a party that analysts say has faded into political irrelevance, said the three main parties should join forces given that dissident radio host Mam Sonando intended to resurrect his Beehive Social Democratic Party ahead of the 2018 election.
Earlier this month, Rainsy and Hun Sen embarked on a symbolic public outing to Siem Reap for Khmer New Year following the conclusion of at-times tense negotiations over the formation of the new National Election Committee.
“I know that Sonando will set up another opposition party, because he has seen that the current opposition led by . . . Rainsy seems to be speaking sweet words [to the ruling party]. Sam Rainsy and Hun Sen looked like a couple on their honeymoon,” Ranariddh said.
He added that if Rainsy and Hun Sen were intent on maintaining their “sweet and gentle words” the CNRP and Cambodian People’s Party should fulfil what he said was the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk’s wish that they merge.
“We need an opposition party but if all [three] parties merged together he would have been very happy,” he said. “I would welcome a coalition between . . . Rainsy, Funcinpec and the Cambodian People’s Party, as was the wish of [Sihanouk].”
Rainsy could not be reached.
Sihanouk had encouraged the CNRP leader, then Sam Rainsy Party head, to form a coalition government in 2003, Ranariddh claimed. But after leaving the meeting, Rainsy decided not to go down that road, he said.
He also claimed Sonando had requested a meeting and that he had accepted.
“If we talk, I want to ask him if he becomes an opposition force, how he will oppose [the ruling party]. I want to know.”
But Sonando, who on Wednesday announced he was relaunching his defunct party, denied having approached Ranariddh.
“I didn’t want to meet him. If he says I did it’s not the truth.”
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann mocked Ranariddh’s suggestion that the three parties should form a coalition with the CPP, saying that a party with no seats in parliament was in a poor position to offer advice.
“If he’s only trying to increase the chances for his party to get seats then that is OK, but he does not need to lecture the [CNRP],” Sovann said.