Beleaguered Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh left the country on Tuesday evening, appointing Prince Norodom Sirivudh, who is also outside Cambodia, as acting royalist party president during his absence.
Prince Ranariddh, whose party has lost positions and come under a barrage of criticism from Prime Minister Hun Sen, flew from Phnom Penh the same day that Prince Sirivudh left with King Norodom Sihamoni on a state visit to Laos and Vietnam, said Thieng Vandarong, Information Ministry deputy director-general.
“[I] transfer the rights to Samdech Norodom Sirivudh, the acting president, to lead the Funcinpec party and authorize him to sign necessary documents…starting from my absence until I return,” the prince wrote in a statement.
Funcinpec Deputy Prime Minister Nhiek Bun Chhay said the prince will spend two weeks in France, at his university teaching post in Aix-en-Provence.
Nhiek Bun Chhay said he was uncertain what had prompted the departure, but added that it was not motivated by Hun Sen’s ongoing verbal assaults on royalist officials, over issues as diverse as extramarital affairs, incompetence, nepotism and lavish spending by the National Olympic Committee, which is headed by Prince Ranariddh.
Opposition lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang said he was not surprised by the prince’s departure; the prince is known to spend a lot of time abroad, he said.
Funcinpec and the CPP on Tuesday formed a commission to coordinate their troubled relationship and to deal with problems arising from their power-sharing agreement. The commission was established by a decree signed by Prince Ranariddh and CPP Senate President Chea Sim.
CPP commission members include Interior Minister Sar Kheng, Cabinet Minister Sok An and Defense Minister Tea Banh, while Funcinpec’s commission members include Education Minister Kol Pheng, Nhiek Bun Chhay and You Hockry.
Prince Ranariddh also nominated You Hockry as his candidate for the position of second deputy president of the National Assembly, rather than his original choice, his aunt Princess Norodom Vacheara, the princess told reporters at the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Princess Vacheara said Prince Ranariddh had informed her that it would be difficult for her to fill the position, as she has previously clashed with the CPP over border issues—a sensitive subject for Hun Sen’s ruling party. “Maybe Excellency You Hockry is more qualified than I and can work smoothly with the CPP,” she said.
You Hockry could not be reached for comment.