Funcinpec officials and a member of the royal family said Friday that they were taken aback by a report in a leading Khmer-language newspaper that Prince Norodom Ranariddh is planning to create a new political party and hand over the leadership of Funcinpec to retired King Norodom Sihanouk.
The front-page story in the Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper attributed the statement to an unidentified source close to Funcinpec, and stated that the story could not be confirmed as the prince is outside the country.
Norodom Sihanouk has no intention of returning to Cambodian politics, said Prince Sisowath Thomico, who returned to Cambodia in recent days after leaving last year after a defamation lawsuit was filed against him on behalf of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“There is one point that is sure. King Sihanouk will never come back again in politics, never, so he will never accept the Funcinpec given back to him by Prince Ranariddh. It doesn’t make sense,” he said in an interview.
Deputy Prime Minister Nhiek Bun Chhay, Funcinpec secretary-general, said he had no information about the prince planning to establish a new political party.
Chhim Seak Leng, the party’s deputy secretary general, said it was impossible that the prince would establish his own party and hand over power to his father.
Pen Samithy, Rasmei Kampuchea editor-in-chief, said the article was based on a story that had already appeared in another newspaper. “We couldn’t find anyone to confirm it so we wrote an analysis story,” he said.