Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Royalists out of touch with voters, say analysts

Royalists out of touch with voters, say analysts

Royalists out of touch with voters, say analysts

As leaders of Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party continued to trade insults

last week, political analysts said the fight does not bode well for the July 2008

national elections.

Local election-monitoring NGOs told the Post that the royalist vote will either be

split between the two parties or their supporters won't bother to vote at all.

Koul Panha, executive director of Comfrel, said the two parties' infighting over

personal issues has nothing to do with what voters care about, and will harm both

parties.

"I think that members of the royal families within NRP and Funcinpec have expressed

their personal anger to the public, which is a bad message for their voters in the

upcoming national elections," Panha said. "Funcinpec won the UNTAC-sponsored

election in 1993 because of its struggle to fight for sovereignty and territorial

integrity and to fight against illegal immigration and corruption."

Panha said that Cambodian people now have a more sophisticated understanding about

what the country needs, and they won't vote for a political party unless they believe

it can improve society.

"There is no law to prohibit members of the royalist families from political

affairs, but the division within royal families has left the royalist political parties

at more risk in the upcoming national elections," Panha said, adding that if

party leaders allow their political image to decline, they'll have to get out of

politics.

Pahna made his comments in reaction to Prince Norodom Ranariddh's public remarks

regarding nepotism inside Funcinpec and his younger sister Princess Arun Rasmey,

who is the Funcinpec candidate for prime minister in the upcoming elections.

Ranariddh, the president of NRP, blasted his 52-year-old sister Arun Rasmey in remarks

made by phone from Mayalsia to supporters in Prey Veng province on October 18.

Muth Chantha, spokesman of the NRP, said the prince was just trying to explain the

differences between Funcinpec and NRP.

"The prince's message just explained to his supporters about the family leadership

and nepotism within Funcinpec. It was not defamation," Chantha said.

He said that the prince recounted how Arun Rasmey is Funcinpec's candidate for prime

minister; her husband Keo Puthrasmey is the president of Funcinpec; and Prince Sisowath

Sirirath is second deputy president of Funcinpec and also is the former husband of

Arun Rasmey.

Sirirath told the Post that Ranariddh's comments demonstrate his attitude towards

Khmer women.

"Ranariddh does not have a good heart. He is jealous of his younger sister in

a leadership role of Funcinpec," Sirirath said.

Sirirath said that there is no division among the royalists because all the royalists

who hold government positions are in Funcinpec, not NRP.

Funcinpec ousted Ranariddh from the party last October.

An official of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Election in

Cambodia also said both parties are in trouble.

"The result of [commune] elections indicates that the royalist political party

is weaker," said Puthea Hang, executive director of NICFEC. "The monarchists

are losing confidence with their leaderships."

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