Prince Norodom Ranariddh was stripped of his new title as Funcinpec’s historical president and fired as a lawmaker after he submitted a request to the Interior Ministry to establish a new political party, Funcinpec officials said Sunday.
Prince Sisowath Sirirath, Funcipec’s second deputy president, said the party had no choice but to remove the prince from the positions as it would have been against the law to let him keep them after he turned his back on Funcinpec.
Prince Ranariddh asked the Interior Ministry on Thursday for permission to form the Norodom Ranariddh Party, his public affairs adviser Ok Socheat said Sunday.
“He automatically lost his position—we must think of the party,” Prince Sirirath said.
“We appointed him to historical president, but he didn’t accept it. Instead he insulted the congress saying it was illegal,” Prince Sirirath said, referring to the Oct 18 extraordinary Funcinpec congress that ousted Prince Ranariddh from the party presidency. “[Prince Ranariddh] loves living abroad rather than living in the country to serve the party,” he added.
Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero confirmed that Funcinpec has fired Prince Ranariddh from both positions.
Ok Socheat maintained that Prince Ranariddh cannot be fired as a lawmaker because he is still the president of Funcinpec and has filed a lawsuit against Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay for allegedly illegally convening a congress to oust him.
“Prince Sisowath Sirirath doesn’t know the law. The party hasn’t fired him yet,” Ok Socheat said.
Liv Sovanna, a lawyer representing Prince Ranariddh, said he filed the lawsuit against Nhiek Bun Chhay at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday.
Ok Socheat said that Prince Ranariddh has left the word “prince” out of the proposed new party’s name in case the government passes a law to prevent royals from participating in politics.
Lay Voharith, director of the Interior Ministry’s department of political affairs, said that the ministry had received the request and would issue a decision Wednesday.
“I think that there is no problem” in registering the new party, he said. But he added that by submitting the application, Prince Ranariddh would have to forgo his Funcinpec membership.
CPP Lawmaker Cheam Yeap said that, along with his titles, Prince Ranariddh has also lost the immunity that comes with being a lawmaker. “When lawmakers lose immunity, they become an ordinary person,” he said.
Hang Puthea, director of Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections in Cambodia, warned that if the prince has lost his political immunity, he may face future legal problems.
“There may be a problem with [Prince Ranariddh’s] opponents,” he said.