In a caustic speech to supporters on Saturday, Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh appealed to Prime Minister Hun Sen to re-examine the Sam Rainsy Party before inviting it into a coalition government.
Prince Ranariddh questioned Sam Rainsy’s loyalty to any coalition with the CPP and urged the prime minister to set conditions on such a coalition, speaking in Kompong Cham province, where he was donating 20 motorbikes to Funcinpec commune councilors.
“If Prime Minister Hun Sen pities Sam Rainsy, before allowing Sam Rainsy to work, he should ask Sam Rainsy first, for example, about the border issues. Sam Rainsy accused Samdech Hun Sen of selling the nation to Vietnam,” the prince claimed.
“The Prime Minister said he wanted to work with [Sam Rainsy], but Sam Rainsy said he wanted to work alone, and they wanted to eat [Hun Sen],” he said of the opposition party.
The speech also included a personal diatribe against the opposition leader, in which the prince called him childish and a liar.
“He cheated people,” the prince said. “People, stop believing what he claims. He acts like a child who takes off his trousers in the middle of a market.”
Sam Rainsy declined to comment.
Cheam Yeap, a senior CPP lawmaker, said that if the Sam Rainsy Party were to join the government, the party might have to adapt and conditions would have to be set. He would not specify what those conditions might be.
“CPP is always thinking ahead. Before forming a coalition government, conditions must be set…. As husband and wife, there must be a joint plan to manage the living situation,” Cheam Yeap said.
Prince Ranariddh said he would continue to seek the monetary compensation awarded him in a defamation lawsuit that was decided on Dec 22, even though Sam Rainsy received a subsequent pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni before returning to the country earlier this month.
“He admitted that he defamed me,” Prince Ranariddh said of Sam Rainsy, who was ordered in the court ruling to pay the prince $5,000 in compensation.
The prince also warned that the Sam Rainsy Party is apt to disappoint the US, “which hopes that Sam Rainsy is a representative of democracy.”
“The US is disappointed and the activists are also disappointed. [Sam Rainsy] will be weak,” he said.
Sam Rainsy Party Deputy President Kong Korm called the speech a sign of the Funcinpec leader’s fear. The speech came less than a week after the prime minister criticized his Funcinpec partners, accusing the royalist party of draining the CPP’s lifeblood.
“Funcinpec is concerned over the CPP’s stance. They are afraid that the CPP would abandon them,” Kong Korm said.
Committee for Free and Fair Elections Director Koul Panha noted that Prince Ranariddh might be seeking to rally his supporters in preparation for a tough battle with the Sam Rainsy Party, should the formula for electing a government be amended.
Sam Rainsy has proposed that the number of lawmakers needed to form a government be reduced from two-thirds to 50 percent plus one, a move that observers say could end the need for coalition governments in Cambodia.
“This is a risky [formula], so he has to try to prepare his party,” Koul Panha said of Prince Ranariddh, whose party has entered three coalitions with the CPP.