Chakrapong Confirms Formation of Party

Prince Norodom Chakrapong confirmed Monday that he is forming a new political party. The prince told reporters that the “Norodom Chakrapong Khmer Soul Party” would work to stamp out corruption, poverty and border disputes that have plagued the country.

“Right now, poor people have many difficulties,” he said. “I want to further democratic principles.”

Prince Chakrapong said he will continue running Royal Phnom Penh Airways. He wants to concentrate on border issues and corruption—two issues which he brought up to Funcinpec members in April 2001 when he first approached them about creating a new party, he said, speaking to reporters at a news conference Mon­day at the Royal Phnom Penh Airways office.

Although Prince Chakrapong downplayed any dispute between himself and Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, he blasted Funcinpec for “hurting themselves.”

Prince Chakrapong attacked Funcinpec after defending himself against accusations he is trying to disrupt the royal party.

“It is not fair to accuse me of dividing [Funcinpec],” he said. “It is Funcinpec itself that is hurting Funcinpec. They hurt themselves because the Funcinpec strategy is not good.”

Prince Chakrapong pointed to the declining number of Funcin­pec parliamentary seats as evidence that the party’s strategy has been ill-conceived. In 1993, Funcinpec held 58 seats, but that dropped to 43 after the 1998 national elections. He added that the party’s poor showing in the 2002 commune elections also shows the party is not doing well.

Funcinpec officials had previously chastised Prince Chakra­pong for starting a new party, saying it would confuse royalist supporters and could possibly tear apart Funcin­pec. Prince Chakra­pong did not rule out forming a coalition with the Sam Rainsy Party, Funcinpec or CPP, saying that he would like to “cooperate with the Sam Rainsy Party be­cause they have similar ideas on democracy…but we would do the same thing with Funcinpec or the CPP if [members] agree on common interests.”

Sam Rainsy said Monday that he would cooperate with any party as long as that party had no coalition with the CPP.

Prince Chakrapong said former Siem Reap governor Toan Chay would be his deputy. Toan Chay was a former royalist who fought against the Vietnamese in the 1980s.

Prince Chakrapong fled in 1994 after he was ac­cused of plotting a coup against the government, which he still denies. He received amnesty from King Norodom Sihanouk in 1998 and returned in 1999.


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