Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh told supporters in Phnom Penh Saturday that the new adultery law is designed to undermine Funcinpec officials.
Speaking at Funcinpec headquarters after arriving from Malaysia that morning, the embattled prince also denied that he had overspent during the 2005 South East Asian Games in Manila, and said he had the receipts to prove it.
“They say that [Funcinpec] is wrong under this law…that they will imprison us,” the prince said of the law criminalizing adultery.
“If imprisoned, it is a penal case, we cannot stand for election,” he said. “If seven or eight are imprisoned, we, Funcinpec, will be finished.”
He warned that the law would not be fairly implemented due to a lack of independence in the courts and the police force.
Many observers have said they believe the law was drafted with Prince Ranariddh in mind. Royalist officials say that the prince, who remains married to Princess Marie, is in a long-term relationship with classical dancer Ouk Phalla.
On Saturday, Prince Ranariddh also responded to criticism from Prime Minister Hun Sen who said last week that the National Olympic Committee, which the prince heads, had massively overspent at the SEA Games late last year.
“The money that Samdech [Hun Sen] gave me, I did not spend carelessly,” Prince Ranariddh said. “I spent according to the requests of the [National Olympic Committee]. I have all the receipts.”
Hun Sen said last week that the committee had wasted nearly $1 million from fundraising programs that he had launched.
Prince Ranariddh also discussed Prince Sisowath Thomico’s fledgling Sankum Cheat Niyum Front Party with reporters. Prince Thomico has repeatedly called on Prince Ranariddh to dissolve Funcinpec.
“We should not play the game to break the voice of the royalists and nationalists,” Prince Ranariddh said. “To speak frankly, it benefits the CPP.”
According to his public affairs adviser Ok Socheat, the prince arrived at Phnom Penh International Airport at 10 am and immediately went to the meeting at party headquarters where 1,100 Funcinpec supporters were on hand to greet him.
Ok Socheat said that he had been misinformed Friday when he said the prince was already in town but was keeping a low profile.
Prince Ranariddh will leave Cambodia again in two weeks for a six-week trip to Europe to raise support for the party, Ok Socheat said.
Sam Rainsy, leader of the party that bears his name, said Funcinpec will benefit from having Prince Ranariddh back. After a five-month hiatus, the prince returned to Cambodia Aug 19, only to leave again unexpectedly six days later.
“A party president must be in touch with the people,” Sam Rainsy said. “If you do not stay in the country long enough you will not be able to solve the party’s problems,” he added.
Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said he was in Paris and declined to speak to a reporter.