Norodom Ranariddh Party Returns, Sans Prince

Prince Norodom Ranariddh agreed yesterday to allow his name to be used once again by the Nationalist Party, formerly known as the Norodom Ranariddh Party, but stopped short of announcing a return to politics, the party and a spokesman for the prince said yesterday.

During a meeting with roughly 60 Nationalist Party members in Phnom Penh yesterday, party president Chhim Seakleng formally asked Prince Ranariddh to return to the party as its leader, and to allow it to bear his name once again, according to party spokesman Pen Sangha.

“His Highness agreed to one of the two requests,” Mr Sangha said. “His Highness agreed to the…request to use his name for the party.”

Prince Ranariddh has still not responded to the request that he return to politics, Mr Sangha said, adding that the party’s name would be formally changed by mid-December.

Prince Ranariddh’s spokesman, Chea Chanboribo, confirmed yesterday that the prince would once again lend his name to the party but said he had not agreed to reenter the political fray.

In an April interview, Prince Ranariddh said he had no immediate plans to return to politics but might reconsider if he were faced with popular demand for his return.

“Politics is a very addictive thing, more addictive than drinking wine,” he told a group of followers in Kompong Chhnang province that month. “When they barred me from politics for a long time, I felt unwell.”

The prince announced his retirement from political life in October 2008, ending a tumultuous political career that spanned some 15 years. After his removal as Funcinpec president in 2006, the prince formed the Norodom Ranariddh Party, which won just two National Assembly seats the 2008 elections and changed its name to the Nationalist Party in 2009.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday that members of the Royal Family should avoid politics.

“The changing of the party’s name is the right of the political party,” he said. “His Highness [Prince Ranariddh] is royalty, so he should help the King in his duties to work in charity and strengthen national sovereignty rather than participating in politics.”

Prince Ranariddh did not immediately reply to an e-mailed request for comment yesterday.


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