Courts Have Banished Princes From Politics

The Norodoms are not a family known for their luck with Cam­bodia’s judiciary.

Prince Norodom Chakrapong, Prince Norodom Sirivudh, and most recently, deposed first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, have in the past four years all been dealt heavy jail terms on a variety of charges related to national security.

The other common factor be­tween the three princes has been their involvement in the mire of Cambodian politics—a family preoccupation that has given rise to fiery debate over whether royals should be allowed to run for public office.

According to many observers, CPP resentment of the electoral advantages afforded to princely politicians gave rise to a strategy of eliminating royals from politics on trumped-up charges brought by courts widely considered loyal to the CPP.

“It’s so clear. They have ex­cised the whole royal family; who is left?” said one long-time po­litical analyst. “First it was Chak­rapong, then Sirivudh, now Ran­a­riddh.”

Prince Chakrapong, in exile in Paris since 1994, asserted last July that he was the first to fall in what he called a CPP plan to eli­mi­nate royals from politics.

Numerous attempts to bar royals from holding office have failed, analysts say, leading their political adversaries to seek other ways to remove them from the political arena.

In 1995, Prince Norodom Siri­vudh, the half-brother of King Norodom Sihanouk, was accused of plotting to kill Second Prime Minister Hun Sen. He went into exile and was convicted in absentia on weapons charges.

Prince Norodom Chakrapong, the King’s son, was accused of plotting a coup d’etat in 1994. He was exiled and convicted in absentia. Now Prince Ranariddh has joined their ranks.

“These are all made-up cases,” the analyst said. “They stem from the CPP’s desire to get the royals out of politics.

“It’s finished for the royals now. The others are free to have their elections without them.”

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