Prince Opts For Politics, Not Throne

Saying he is “seriously clear,” National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh prom­ised Tuesday he would not seek the throne when his father, King Norodom Sihanouk, dies.

“Please take my name off the candidate list. I’ve decided to stay in politics for good,” the prince told reporters outside the Nation­al Assembly.

Prince Ranariddh, who is also the leader of Funcinpec, said his party needs him more.

“Between the two choices of being the next king and being a politician, I will surely choose to involve myself in politics to lead Funcinpec ahead. I have decided to take to politics more than the throne,” the prince told reporters outside the National Assembly.

Gazing upon his waiting aides, the prince said the royalist party would be lost without him.

Prince Ranariddh said his decision not to seek the throne will disappoint some of his fellow royals, including Prince Norodom Siha­moni, Cambodia’s ambassador to Unesco, who some observers have said is the CPP’s favorite candidate for the throne.

“Prince Sihamoni has always sup­ported my candidacy for the throne. I thank him for his support. But I have decided I am not a candidate. I like to be in politics,” Prince Ranariddh said.

Some in the government have suggested banning royals from national politics, and the Prince condemned those suggestions Tuesday.

“In the constitution, all Khmers have equal rights and freedoms to practice politics,” he said.

Earlier this year, Prince Ranariddh said the next king will have to have the full support of the people, but did not say whom he favored for the throne. Nor would the prince did not speculate further on Tuesday, saying it would be inappropriate, since King Sihanouk is still healthy.

The relationship between father and son has improved, and become “as good as before,” Ranariddh said. Earlier this year, King Sihanouk sent a series of nearly two dozen letters condemning a biography of the Prince.

The book, titled “Warrior Prince,” was based on interviews Prince Ranariddh gave in 1997 in Thailand following the factional fighting. He is quoted as saying King Sihanouk was a cold, distant father who told him not to enter national politics and made oblique references to the Prince killing himself.

All that was in the past, Prince Ranariddh said Tuesday.

“There is no problem between father and son. The relationship has not changed,” Prince Ranariddh said.

Under Cambodian law, the King must be a male member of the royal family, and he is formally chosen by the nine-member Throne Council. Because he is the president of the National Assembly, Prince Ranariddh is a member of the Throne Council.

Prince Ranariddh made his comments during a break at the National Assembly. On Tuesday, lawmakers continued their debate over amendments to the penal code.

Lawmakers failed by three votes to pass an amendment that would have given judicial police the power to detain people more than the 48 hours stipulated by the law if necessary. Funcinpec parliamentarian Keo Remy led the fight against the amendment because it gave police the right to arrest children under 13 years of age.

“We should forgive the kid who commits crimes because they are underage,” Keo Remy said.


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