Prince Sisowath Thomico, a former aide to late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, and his nephew, announced yesterday he had joined the opposition Cambodian Nat-ional Rescue Party.
Speaking after the party’s inaugural congress, Prince Thomico, who was appointed a member of the central committee, said he was not keen to join politics but was saddened by the current state of affairs.
“I will resign from the CNRP and from politics any time if the ruling CPP helps resolve problems for people and off-ers justice for people when it develops the country, instead of doing development under the tears of people,” he said.
Stressing the decision was his, and that he had not sought the advice of the King, the Queen Mother or the King Father, Thomico said he believed the CNRP was the only party capable of tackling the nation’s problems.
“I’m a member of the royal family. I’m a founding member of the Funcinpec party from 1981, under the leadership of King [Norodom Sihan-ouk]. What honour can I have when they recognise only Nhek Bun Chhay’s Funcinpec?”
That the congress was held 20km from the centre of Phnom Penh, in a large field rented after Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema denied the CNRP’s application to hold it in Wat Botum Park, did little to dampen the mood of the more than 10,000 members who showed up.
Decked out in hats and T-shirts adorned with the rising-sun logo, attendees cheered as party president Sam Rainsy spoke via video link from Paris and vice-president Kem Sokha delivered a speech on policies.
Rainsy promised members that if the CNRP won the July national election, both leaders would ensure prosperity.
“I would like to commit to do what people need. CNRP is formed according to people’s will,” Rainsy, who lives in self-imposed exile in France to avoid 12 years for criminal charges widely believed to be politically motivated, said.
Among the platforms floated by Sokha were promises to almost halve the cost of electricity and set gasoline prices on par with neighbouring countries.
He also mocked a recent plea by Prime Minister Hun Sen, saying if voters loved and were content with him, to vote CPP.
“If you love yourselves, love your children, love your parents and love your country, please vote for CNRP,” Sokha said.