After spending much of 2006 overseas, Prince Norodom Rana-riddh has kicked off the New Year with another trip abroad, his cousin Prince Sisowath Thomico said Monday.
Prince Thomico, who is in a political alliance with Prince Ranariddh, said the prince left for Malaysia on Sunday for personal reasons that he declined to specify.
Prince Ranariddh, who last re-turned to Cambodia from France on Dec 31, will return again Friday, the prince added.
Shortly before the prince’s last departure from Cambodia on Nov 25—which he made to resign from his teaching post in France—the prince said he would devote himself full-time to his new Norodom Ranariddh Party on his return.
NRP spokesman Muth Chann-tha declined to confirm whether Prince Ranariddh had left the country, but added: “Our party can handle [it] if the prince is in or out of the country—you can judge by the results.”
The NRP, which was launched Nov 16, has subsequently put forward candidates for April’s commune elections in at least 1,417 communes, beating Funcinpec by 10 communes, the National Elec-tion Committee announced Jan 4.
Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said Monday that he believes the prince left this time to avoid the breach of trust lawsuit that Funcinpec filed against him over the sale of the party’s headquarters in late 2005.
“This is his habit,” Nouv Sov-athero said.
Prince Ranariddh was scheduled to face questioning about the case at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday, but this was postponed at the request of his lawyer Liv Sovanna.
Koul Panha, director of the Com-mittee for Free and Fair Elections, said that it is still important for the NRP that its leaders spend time in Cambodia ahead of the elections.
The NRP “need[s] the leadership to form the supporters and the organizers to run the election,” he said.