Prince Denies Being Bribed to Join Gov’t

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.



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