Prince Norodom Ranariddh blasted the Sam Rainsy Party Friday, saying that any gains it made in Sunday’s commune council elections only helped to strengthen the ruling CPP, while robbing the royalists of votes.
“It is a big contribution that Sam Rainsy and his party gave to the CPP. It is my worry. Sam Rainsy can attack me now,” the prince said.
Both the CPP and Sam Rainsy Party have tentatively suggested that they could agree to some sort of power-sharing agreement, especially in the communes where councilors from these political enemies will be forced to work together.
Observers are questioning whether that power-sharing could extend to the 2003 national elections, when a new coalition government could emerge between the CPP and Cambodia’s former opposition party.
The prince said this could ultimately doom the constitutional monarchy. “I am worried that if these two political parties are in power and Funcinpec becomes the opposition, in the long term it could be a threat,” he said.
Though still reeling from the beating it took during the elections, the royalists remain strong, with nearly 1 million hardline party members.
“They are not afraid of threats, they are not bought off. They are our core,” the prince said.
While the prince continued to blame low voter turnout for his party’s poor election day performance, election monitors have said it was pre-election violence that turned voters off.
Several Funcinpec activists and candidates were killed in the months leading up to the elections, though the government has refused to acknowledge that these acts might have been politically motivated. On Friday the prince made his strongest statement yet against the killings.
“As the Prime Minister, [Hun Sen] should say these are not political killings, but for me as president of the National Assembly I have to say there were killings and those victims were candidates of political parties.”