Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly lambasted the Norodom Ranariddh Party on Jan 19 accusing young members of scuttling an secret initiative between Funcinpec and Prince Norodom Ranariddh that would have seen a lawsuit dropped against the prince by his former party.
Hun Sen launched into an angry tirade against the unnamed individuals at the Jan 19 Council of Ministers meeting, which the prime minister then ordered broadcast on national television soon after the weekly meeting finished.
For reasons of national stability ahead of looming elections, Hun Sen said he had, through an unnamed third party, petitioned Funcinpec leaders to end their bitter legal and personal feud with Prince Ranariddh.
Funcinpec President Keo Puth Rasmei, secretary general Nhiek Bun Chhay and deputy party president Lu Laysreng had agreed with the initiative to end the wrangle, Hun Sen said.
Scathing criticism from NRP members, however, of the Funcinpec leadership and claims that they were being ordered by the CPP to negotiate with Prince Ranariddh have sunk the peace deal, Hun Sen said.
“The ignorant young people who know nothing said that Prime Minister Hun Sen imposed an order on Funcinpec to withdraw its lawsuit,” Hun Sen said.
“What they called an order is an insult to the prime minister,” he said. “This is a serious insult to Funcinpec leaders…Funcinpec leaders have their own wisdom and good intentions,” he added.
Hun Sen promised that the multi-million dollar lawsuit, filed by Funcinpec against the prince for breach of trust, would now proceed swiftly through the courts.
“Please continue this complaint in the court until the end of the legal process,” he said.
NRP spokesman Muth Chantha said that the prime minister’s televised statement was the first he and other party members had heard of any effort to settle the legal dispute.
“We didn’t know about this until he declared it today,” Muth Chantha said, adding that the prince is looking forward to his day in court.
“We have nine witnesses to prove that Prince Ranariddh is not involved,” he said.
Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said that his party’s leaders had not been ordered to negotiate an end to the legal dispute with the prince.