Symbolizing his full return to power over the royalist Funcinpec party, which won the 1993 national election and has since slowly faded into obscurity, Prince Norodom Ranhariddh unveiled a new logo featuring his face at a party congress on Friday.
After Funcinpec failed to win a single seat with Princess Norodom Arunrasmy heading the party in the 2013 election, Prince Ranhariddh again took the reins of what was left of the party in January last year.
The prince told hundreds of supporters gathered on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island that he hoped to return the party to prominence.
He explained that his face was the closest the party could come to reminding people of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, whose popularity swept the party to victory in 1993—though Funcinpec never managed to wrest power from the CPP, and the prince was ousted as first prime minister during factional fighting in 1997.
“The logo has my face, the face that is closest to king father, but it isn’t enough,” the prince told the crowd on Friday, explaining that the party had much work to do in winning voters over after losing their trust over the years.
“They do not hate the king father, but they hate the leaders in our party that did not deliver honesty to the public,” said Prince Ranhariddh, whose previous tenure as Funcinpec president was beset with allegations of corruption and complacency.
Claiming that Funcinpec was still one of the three political powers in Cambodia—along with the ruling CPP and opposition CNRP—the prince praised his past cooperation with Prime Minister Hun Sen and scolded opposition leader Sam Rainsy.
“Mr. Sam Rainsy, he said Funcinpec is weak now. He forgets, who made him alive?” the prince said, referring to Mr. Rainsy’s time with the party, first planning from Paris and then briefly as the finance minister before being ousted in 1994.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said Funcinpec became an entirely different party after it lost the 1998 election, and that the latest iteration was not worth discussing.
“I think the people evaluated Funcinpec already because now it disappears,” he said. “So no need to talk about Funcinpec anymore.”
(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)