Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay claimed Tuesday that Prince Norodom Ranariddh was offered a chance two months ago to resume his presidency of Funcinpec, but the prince turned down the offer.
Nhiek Bun Chhay said he was revealing that an offer was made to Prince Ranariddh to show royalist voters that Funcinpec was sincere in its efforts to reunite the fractured party.
“I made the offer public because of the prince’s last rejection. I want a reunion,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said in a telephone interview.
Last week, Prince Ranariddh released a statement saying that he would not return to Funcinpec “under any circumstances.”
Nhiek Bun Chhay said that Funcinpec also offered the prince the chairmanship of the party’s permanent committee, though both offers were made on the condition that the prince could not be party president for life, nor could he make decisions without a vote by the committee.
The prince rejected both conditions, Nhiek Bun Chhay said. “Prince Norodom Ranariddh wants to be the president for his whole life,” he said, adding the prince can only return to Cambodia through the good graces of Funcinpec.
In March, Prince Ranariddh was sentenced to 18 months in prison following a breach of trust conviction over the sale of Funcinpec’s former headquarters.
“The prince can return to the country only through Funcinpec’s door, but I think he is tired of politics,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said.
Prince Ranariddh’s senior adviser Noranarith Anandayath dismissed Nhiek Bun Chhay’s latest claim as a ploy to trick Norodom Ranariddh Party members into joining Funcinpec.
“If [Funcinpec members] wanted the prince as the president, they should not have ousted him,” he said. “Nhiek Bun Chhay should stop lying to the people. The prince has nothing to do with Funcinpec.”