Another Prince Becomes Party President

Another prince has taken the top spot of a political party, though both the man and the party he is now running have yet to establish their political credentials in the lead-up to the upcoming local and national elections.

Prince Sisowath Chakrey Noukpol, a member of the royal family with a meandering career in politics, was on Wednesday named the new president of the Cambodian Liberty Party, founded in November by longtime CPP member Chea Chamroeun, who left the party less than four months later.

At an event at the party’s Phnom Penh headquarters on Wednesday, the prince said that party members had invited him to helm the party, adding that one of the first orders of business would be officially registering with the Interior Ministry.

“I decided to join and lead this party because I saw a lot of injustice occurring in Cambodia, such as the problem with the government accusing civil society officials and arresting them more and more,” he said.

The country’s royalist political movement has splintered in recent years, and the return of Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the former prime minister, as president of the Funcinpec party last year seems only to have exacerbated the situation. Nhek Bun Chhay, Funcinpec’s longtime secretary-general, defected and launched his own party in February.

Prince Chakrey Noukpol, who was a member of Funcinpec before defecting to the CNRP in recent years, said on Wednesday he trusted that like-minded royalists would ultimately come together.

“I don’t think that me creating a party will split the vote of royalists,” he said. “In the future, we will join together with other parties that have similar policies…to take on the CPP.”

Mr. Bun Chhay said he was not concerned by the prince’s new political plans—a sentiment shared by spokesmen for Funcinpec and the CPP.

Prince Sisowath Thomico, a prominent member of the opposition CNRP, said the prince had done little to build confidence among potential supporters.

“He’s changed so many times, so it’s difficult for me to say anything,” he said. “I think he’s not very stable.”

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