Opposition leader Sam Rainsy left Phnom Penh on Tuesday evening for France, where he said he will meet with Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh who departed Cambodia on Sunday, just as talks began between Funcinpec and the CPP on the formation of a new government.
Sam Rainsy told reporters he would stay in France for about 10 days. “I will come back when something important happens in Cambodia,” Sam Rainsy said.
Opposition Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said Sam Rainsy was leaving with his family for a holiday, adding he was not aware of any special meeting between Sam Rainsy and Prince Ranariddh.
“This is a private family holiday trip,” he said Tuesday.
On Sunday, Funcinpec officials said Prince Ranariddh was in the Philippines, meeting parliamentarians there, though they did not disclose when he would return.
A Funcinpec official, who declined to be named because of the royalist party’s press blackout, said Tuesday that Prince Ranariddh would leave for France from the Philippines on Thursday and return to Cambodia by April 15.
As during the 1993 and 1998 post-election deadlocks, Prince Ranariddh “felt he was under a lot of pressure,” a Funcinpec official close to the prince said Tuesday.
But the official said the prince’s absence would not likely affect the Funcinpec-CPP negotiations. Prince Ranariddh, after all, has been absent for several months throughout the eight-month long political deadlock, the official said.
“I think it worked out OK. He maintains contact [with the party] every day,” the official said.
CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith expressed little concern Tuesday, saying the prince and Prime Minister Hun Sen will eventually work out a resolution. “The spirit of the meetings” is in place already, Khieu Kanharith said.
Repeated calls to Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou went unanswered Tuesday.