The Norodom Ranariddh Party, already rudderless since the retirement from politics of its president Prince Ranariddh, took another blow Tuesday with a key group of early supporters apparently turning on the prince and the party.
A newly re-formed Democratic Front of Khmer Students and Intellectuals released a statement Tuesday evening blasting Prince Ranariddh and saying that they were on the verge of suspending their support of the prince.
Years earlier the front had formed its own small, ultra-nationalist political party known as the Khmer Front Party. When Prince Ranariddh experienced difficulties registering the NRP with the Interior Ministry in late 2006, the Khmer Front Party stepped forward, allowing the prince to take control of their party, which simply renamed itself the NRP.
“Recently, we have noticed that Prince Norodom Ranariddh as a political leader is limited, inactive and lacks a clear strategy. The front is disappointed and considering suspending our support of the prince,” the front wrote in their statement.
The front’s spokesman, Kim Sok, said that the prince had used the country’s youth for his own political benefits and has now abandoned them after getting the position he wanted. Last month, Prince Ranariddh was appointed as chief adviser to King Sihamoni with a nominal rank equal to prime minister.
“We have suspended our support of the Norodom Ranariddh Party,” Kim Sok said, adding that if the prince continues to ignore the needs and wishes of the country’s youth, the front would retake control of the NRP and hand authority to their former president Suth Dina, who is now the secretary-general and spokesman of the NRP.
It remained unclear Tuesday if the front had the legal right to change the leadership.
Suth Dina declined to comment on the front’s statement Tuesday, except to say that, “The students are upset with the prince.”
Prince Ranariddh’s spokesman Chea Chanboribo said that the prince no longer concerns himself with matters of politics.
“He is no longer involved with politics. It is the Norodom Ranariddh Party’s business,” he said.