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Royalist party squabble gets fresh court hearing

Royalist party squabble gets fresh court hearing

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NRP secretary-general Sao Rany speaks with reporters last month. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

In the latest round of sniping among disagreeable Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) members, acting NRP president Chhim Siek Leng is challenging a recent decision by Phnom Penh Municipal Court to let NRP secretary general Sao Rany keep his job.

Judge Chang Sinath once again summonsed both sides to court yesterday and questioned them for hours over the dispute, but he did not make a decision or set the next court date.

The increasingly complicated backstory to yesterday’s move began last month when Rany, in a bid to force a merger with Funcinpec, lead a public campaign to oust Ranariddh, who was perceived as an obstacle to previous failed mergers.

Ranariddh responded by booting Rany out of the party.

Rany challenged the decision in court, won, and NRP representatives have counter-sued to enforce the decision, bringing us to the most recent court date.

When walking out of court yesterday, Siek Leng declined to comment, but Noranarith Anandayath, an NRP cabinet chief, told reporters that Judge Sinath had asked: “How did “the decision to terminate [Sao Rany] occur when the prince was not in Cambodia?”

Anandayath told reporters that Ranariddh, who was traveling abroad, issued the directive digitally, through an email.

“This is a way that the world recognises, and the way to carry matters out nowadays,” he said.

Anandayath also argued that Ranariddh, a former prime minister, had not kicked Rany out the party, just terminated him “temporarily” as punishment.

Rany did not show up for court, leaving the job to his lawyer, Tith Savuthy, who told the Post he hopes his client will win the case.

“If the judge finds that plaintiff [Rany] has enough evidence or is reasonable, the judge will uphold the previous decision,” Savuthy said.

Judge Sinath could not be reached for comment yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meas Sokchea at [email protected]

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