Prince Norodom Ranariddh is no longer invited to resume his leadership of Funcinpec, a senior party official announced July 17 during a ceremony to welcome 100 Norodom Ranariddh Party defectors—including two of the prince’s advisers—into the Funcinpec fold.
Lu Laysreng, Funcinpec vice president and Minister of Rural Development, said his party has made all the concessions it can to woo the prince back to Funcinpec’s presidency, but the prince has declined.
“We don’t think about Prince Norodom Ranariddh any more. We have given him everything he wants,” Lu Laysreng said at the former medical clinic on Norodom Boulevard that now houses Funcinpec’s headquarters.
“There is no way [Prince Ranariddh] can return,” he added.
Lu Laysreng also said that Prince Ranariddh, who has been living overseas for months, is little more than a figurehead for the NRP.
“The Prince is just a rubber stamp within the Norodom Ranariddh Party,” he said.
Prince Sisowath Thomico, who recently abandoned his fledgling Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party and then bailed out of his political alliance with the NRP, was among those welcomed into the Funcinpec fold, along with Prince Ranariddh’s advisers Ok Socheat and Serei Kosal.
Explaining his political tap dance, Prince Thomico said the NRP had no adequate candidates for the 2008 national elections. He also hinted that Prince Ranariddh might still be able to return to Funcinpec.
“If we compare Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party, Funcinpec has all the resources. If [Prince Ranariddh] returns to Funcinpec’s house he can be the prime minister candidate,” Prince Thomico said.
“If the prince does not return and allows a few people to provoke a chaotic situation, it means he is trying to destroy royalist voices,” he added.
Serei Kosal told reporters that he would not have quit the NRP if Prince Ranariddh had really been in charge.
“The Norodom Ranariddh Party is not being led by Prince Norodom Ranariddh,” he said, adding that NRP officials are giving the prince false information about the situation in Cambodia. He did not name the officials in question.
NRP spokesman Muth Channtha said he was pleased to hear that Funcinpec no longer wants Prince Ranariddh as its president.
“We are happy that they made claims like that,” he said. “Funcinpec is almost dead. That is why they wanted the prince,” he added.
Muth Channtha also said he has hired well-known local comedian Lorcy to respond on behalf of the NRP to future comments by Ok Socheat and Serei Kosal.
“With Ok Socheat and Serei Kosal, only Lorcy can respond,” he said.
Ok Socheat said he did not think Muth Channtha was mocking him, but added that Lorcy’s appointment as an NRP spokesman would drive a further wedge between the two parties.