The Norodom Ranariddh Party wrote to Funcinpec President Keo Puth Rasmey on Thursday demanding that the royalist party remove the prince as their “honorary president” within a month or face legal action, an official said.
NRP Cabinet Chief Muth Channtha said that the prince wanted the title officially removed by Funcinpec to separate himself from his former party and to prevent confusion at election time.
“It’s to reaffirm the prince’s decision that he never accepted the honorary position,” Muth Channtha said. “It’s misleading to voters.”
On Oct 18, 2006 Funcinpec voted to remove the prince as their president and “elevated” him to the title of honorary president. In retaliation, the prince left Funcinpec and formed his own party, the NRP, in November.
Keo Puth Rasmey, who replaced Prince Ranariddh as Funcinpec president, said that since the prince declined the position and formed his own party he does not have a title.
“There’s nothing to remove. His name is not in Funcinpec,” Keo Puth Rasmey said, adding that he has not yet received the NRP’s demands.
“Since he is no longer a member of the party he cannot be an honorary president,” he said.
Keo Puth Rasmey added that he suspects the prince wishes to reunite with Funcinpec and is using the title issue to vie for his old position.
“Maybe he thinks if Funcinpec regards him as honorary president that means he has no chance of being president of Funcinpec,” he said.
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that both parties learned from last month’s commune election that they have little chance of doing well in the 2008 national elections if they don’t work together.
Funcinpec and Prince Ranariddh would like to join forces again, but have to do so in a manner where both groups can save face, he said.
“They had some reflection time after the commune elections,” he said. “If they are separate they will struggle during the next election.”