Prince Rues 1993 Coalition

odong, Kompong Speu – De­posed first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh apologized to supporters Tuesday, saying it was a mistake for Funcinpec to enter a coalition with the CPP after winning the 1993 elections.

Because of the power-sharing agreement, the prince said, Fun­cinpec was unable to deliver on many of its campaign promises.

“People voted for Funcinpec in the 1993 elections and people put their faith in me, but we did not have the full power to do things

…because the co-premier system required consensus,” the prince told thousands of supporters here Tuesday.

Campaigning for the July 26 elections, Prince Ranariddh made familiar appeals to his party’s historical connections to King Nor­o­dom Sihanouk and to anti-Viet­nam­ese sentiments.

Prince Ranariddh told supporters that, while the coalition government’s failures were caused by the CPP, increased freedom and economic growth could be credited to Funcinpec.

The proof, he said, is the economic downturn and fear after he was effectively ousted as first prime minister last year by Sec­ond Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The prince said one of his first priorities if Funcinpec wins the election will be to reform the court system. “If we don’t have independence of the courts, they cannot find justice for people who are wronged because of all the bribes and the pressure from rich and powerful people,” he said.

The Phnom Penh Military Court convicted the prince in March on charges of weapons smuggling and colluding with the Khmer Rouge. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison but later was amnestied by his father, King Norodom Siha­nouk, allowing him to participate in the July 26 elections.

Also Tuesday, the prince re­leased a statement telling voters not to be fooled by other parties campaigning on a royalist platform. “I wish to inform you all that there is only one Funcinpec that was formed by Samdech Euv, King Norodom Sihanouk, to liberate the country from the Viet-namese invasion and to rehabilitate the country,” it said.

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