Prince Norodom Ranariddh said on Friday that he hoped the royalist Funcinpec party, which he has promised to revitalize since again becoming its president in January, would win 26 seats in the 2018 national election, up from zero in 2013.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh, the prince said that the party’s failure to win a single seat in parliament in the last election was due to the unpopularity of its leaders at the time.
“They did not hate the king father [Norodom Sihanouk] but they hated the political leaders of Funcinpec,” the prince said. Princess Norodom Arunrasmey, the prince’s half sister, was president of the party during the last election.
Prince Ranariddh said the party hoped to win significant support in the country’s most populated provinces and in Phnom Penh.
“I want at least 26 seats back,” he said, “26 seats is equal to 1,070,000 people.”
Since winning the U.N.-sponsored election in 1993—ultimately agreeing to share power with the CPP—Funcinpec has seen a steady decline in support. It won 43 seats in the 1998 election, 26 seats in 2003 and just two in 2008.
The prince said that he would focus on rooting out corruption and creating jobs in order to once again rally support for the royalist party.
“The biggest problem is the corruption problem,” he said.
“The rich people keep getting richer and the poor people keep getting poorer, so this is a problem caused by corruption that makes it difficult to improve Cambodia.”
Prince Ranariddh told reporters that he would make a sacred promise to the spirits at Wat Phnom to “cancel the debt of all the people.”
“Just Angkor Wat temple’s profits can feed more than 14 million Cambodian people,” he said.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said that the prince, often referred to by his honorific “Samdech Krom Preah,” was delusional if he believed Funcinpec could win 26 seats in the national election.
“I can only say that Samdech Krom Preah is dreaming,” Mr. Eysan said. “His ambitions are just his desire, but in fact, it is not like what he wants.”
Mr. Eysan denied that corruption was widening the wealth gap, and said the government was “always trying to reduce the poverty of the people.”
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the party was not concerned with Prince Ranariddh.
“The Cambodia National Rescue Party has only one competitor, the Cambodian People’s Party,” he said.