Prince Chakrapong’s Party To Join Funcinpec

After defecting from Funcinpec more than a decade ago, Prince Norodom Chakrapong on Sun­day said he will rejoin the royalist party, bringing thousands of his supporters with him.

Speaking in an interview broadcast on Radio Free Asia, Prince Chakrapong said his party, the Noro­dom Chakrapong Pro­loeung Khmer Party, will merge with Funcinpec later this month.

“I have met with [Funcinpec Sec­retary-General] Prince Noro­dom Sirivudh and agreed to join with Funcinpec,” he said.

Prince Chakrapong, son of King Norodom Siha­nouk, said he  left Funcin­pec in 1991 because it did not com­ply with then-Prince Siha­nouk’s ideology. He joined the CPP but was expelled after he was accused of leading a failed coup at­tempt in 1994, which he de­nied. He fled the country that same year and re­turned to Cam­bodia in 1999 af­ter receiving am­nesty from the King in 1998.

He tried to rejoin Fun­­cin­pec but was re­buffed and created his self-named party in 2002.

Prince Chakrapong told RFA on Sunday he decided to return to Funcinpec because he now agrees with Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh’s leadership, and supports the Alli­ance of Democrats.

“Now Prince Norodom Rana­riddh and Funcinpec turn to walk on a good road,” he said. “I think the [Alliance’s] stance is correct. I hope the stand will last forever.” He said he did not know if his party would change its name, nor his new position within Funcinpec.

Peou Sithik, secretary-general for the Norodom Chakra­pong Proloeung Khmer Party, said his party has more than 1 million members who will now join Fun­cinpec. He said his party failed to secure a National Assem­bly seat in the July 27 general election due to voting irregularities.

Prince Sirivudh on Sunday ap­plauded the move. “I am very hap­py the royal family will join together,” he said.

He added Prince Chakrapong will meet with Prince Ranariddh when the Funcinpec president returns to Phnom Penh from Europe on Wednesday. Prince Chakrapong strongly criticized his half-brother in the run-up to last year’s elections.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy also welcomed Prince Chakra­pong’s decision in light of his own party’s plans to merge with Fun­cinpec, adding it would help en­sure the Alliance’s success in the 2008 election.

Sam Rainsy said he would share the opposition’s allocation of government positions with Prince Chakrapong’s members if a new three-party government is formed. He added he had no problems with Prince Chakra­pong’s previous membership in the CPP.

Om Yentieng, an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, said he was “happy to see the party disappear.”


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