Re-elected Thursday to his second term as head of the National Assembly, Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh denied rumors he accepted bribes from Prime Minister Hun Sen to join the new coalition government.
“There was a rumor that I got $60 [million], $30 [million] or $3 million from Samdech Hun Sen. I have never received even a single dollar from him,” Prince Ranariddh told reporters outside the Assembly. “Saying such things are seriously insulting to me. I found the way out [of the government deadlock] for the nation,” he said.
The prince’s comments came in response to questions, most publicly from his Alliance of Democrats partner Sam Rainsy, over whether he had taken bribes.
In an interview on Voice of America radio earlier this week, Sam Rainsy said the prince appeared to have “a secret agreement” with Hun Sen, speculating, “that’s why [Prince Ranariddh] changed his mind and plans of what were discussed in the past went from white to black.”
Dismissing the barbs, Prince Ranariddh told reporters Thursday that he vows to uphold democratic principles in the new mandate.
“I will continue the culture of transparency and democracy inside the National Assembly framework,” he said.
He also welcomed opposition Senator Ou Bunlong into the government as a secretary of state for the Ministry of Finance.
Ou Bunlong is the only Sam Rainsy Party member to join the government.
Reached in Bangkok by telephone, Sam Rainsy said he had asked for Ou Bunlong’s resignation from his party.
“We recognize and respect the right for anybody to do whatever he wants, but if he joins the government, he must do so as an individual, not as a member of the Sam Rainsy Party,” he said, adding that the senator had not yet submitted his resignation.
Ou Bunlong could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Sam Rainsy, whose party boycotted the Assembly session, said he was not disappointed by the formation of the new government because it has identified those who oppose the rule of law.