F’pec Blasts Red Cross Claim Against Princess

Funcinpec members accused the CPP of creating a smear campaign directed at their president’s wife on Tuesday, in response to allegations that Princess Noro­dom Marie Ranariddh had misallocated more than $300,000 be­longing to the Cambodian Red Cross.

Princess Marie Ranariddh,  wife of Funcinpec leader Prince Nor­odom Ranariddh, was president of the Cambodia Red Cross for more than three years before the title was passed in 1998 to Bun Rany, wife of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

During the princess’ stint as president, $300,000 disappeared from the organization’s coffers, said Cambodian Red Cross spokes­woman Men Neary So­pheak, who said the organization is politically independent.

But Funcinpec Minister of Information Lu Laysreng said the allegations are groundless.

Lu Laysreng said opposing parties were fabricating stories about each other ahead of Sunday’s general election.

Noranarith Anandayath, adviser to Prince Ranariddh, said the Red Cross’ claims were likely a counterattack to criticism that Bun Rany was misusing her influence within the organization to win CPP support.

He said the Cam­bodian Red Cross had been making donations to villagers on be­half of the CPP at a time when political parties were subject to a “no gift” period during the election campaigns.

He added that Funcinpec complained to the NEC about the organization’s ties to the CPP.

A Funcinpec official in Kampot province made a similar complaint to the provincial election committee July 12.

CPP officials declined to comment.

Men Neary Sopheak denied that Bun Rany was abusing her position. She said between 1994 and 1997, when Princess Marie was heading the organization, an un­known amount of money was de­posited into an account at the Cam­bodia’s Farmers Bank, which has since collapsed.

De­tails of what happened to that money are unclear, Men Neary Sopheak said, but financial reports showed the Cambodia Red Cross had racked up a deficit of more than $300,000 in those three years.

Her claims could not immediately be confirmed and documentation was not available Tuesday.


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