F’pec Offers To Back Amnesty Bid for Prince

Funcinpec has pledged to try and secure amnesty for Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh, providing that the prince disband the Norodom Rana­riddh Party and reassume his position as Funcinpec’s historical president, officials said Thursday.

Funcinpec spokesman Nouv So­vathero said Funcinpec and NRP officials have met several times to discuss the possibility of Prince Ra­nariddh returning to Funcinpec and the disbanding of the NRP, but no official agreement has been reached.

“Funcinpec’s door remains open,” Nouv Sovathero said, ad­ding that Funcinpec would like to see the two parties reunite. “We are all royalists…. We want to re­unite Funcinpec.”

Prince Ranariddh, who has been abroad since January, was senten­ced in absentia by Phnom Penh Municipal Court in March to 18 months in jail for breach of trust in the sale of Funcinpec’s former headquarters.

Funcinpec President Keo Puth Raksmey, speaking at an inauguration ceremony Saturday for his par­ty’s temporary new headquarters on Norodom Boulevard, said that if Prince Ranariddh fulfills the two conditions, Funcinpec will back him as their prime minister candidate in the 2008 national elections, Nouv Sovathero said.

Funcinpec would look to the fu­ture and let bygones be bygones if the prince returned, he added.

“It’s about politics and politicians have no enemies.”

On Tuesday, however, the NRP issued a statement refusing Funcinpec’s offer.

“Samdech Krom Preah Noro­dom Ranariddh, president of the Norodom Ranariddh Party, has never accepted and continues not to accept the Funcinpec party congress of October 18,” the statement read, referring to the gathering at which Funcinpec decided on the prince’s removal as president and bestowed an honorary title of honorary president.

NRP spokesman Muth Chan­ntha said Funcinpec is using the prince’s name to attract votes and should revoke his title as historical president as soon as possible.

“Funcinpec must call another congress to delete the prince’s name,” he said Thursday.

Prince Sisowath Thomico said he has met with Funcinpec officials many times to discuss reuniting the royalist parties and Prince Rana­riddh’s return to Cambodia, though he declined to discuss the details of any of those meetings. “We have exchanged ideas to move the pro­cess forward,” he said.

CPP lawmaker Nguon Nhel said the ruling party has no problem with Prince Ranariddh returning to the historical presidency of its co­alition partner Funcinpec.

“CPP has no objection,” he said. “There is no problem.”

Mar Sophal, monitoring chief for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said Funcinpec needs the prince.

“Funcinpec has seen the Noro­dom Ranariddh Party receive good results. If the prince does not re­turn, Funcinpec will face a problem in 2008,” he said.

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