Just one month after his party voted to merge with the Norodom Ranariddh Party, Prince Sisowath Thomico has stepped down in order to defect to royalist party rival Funcinpec, officials said July 2.
Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said July 2 that Prince Thomico, along with Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s adviser Ok Socheat, had both joined Funcinpec.
Funcinpec’s permanent committee is currently deciding on which position to offer Prince Thomico, Nouv Sovathero said. “It is good to have [Prince Thomico] with Funcinpec, it shows that we are loyal to the monarchy,” he said.
Prince Thomico could not be contacted for comment and Ok Socheat denied that he has decided to join Funcinpec, though he added that he would like to see the NRP re-join Funcinpec.
On May 27, Prince Thomico, along with 200 supporters of his fledgling Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party, merged with the NRP, which was formed after Prince Ranariddh was dropped as Funcinpec’s president by his own party members.
Prince Thomico used the occasion of joining the NRP to encourage members of the SRP and Kem Sokha’s newly established Human Rights Party to join a royalist-oriented political alliance to compete against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP in the 2008 election.
Suth Dina, former secretary-general of the Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party, confirmed that Prince Thomico had defected and said that he was both disappointed and embarrassed by the decision.
“He didn’t discuss it with us,” he said. “He has an unclear stance lately.”
Mar Sophal, monitoring chief for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that Prince Thomico likely dumped the NRP and defected to Funcinpec in order to convince Prince Ranariddh to do the same.
“Funcinpec wants Prince Norodom Ranariddh to return to restore the votes,” he said, referring to the humiliating defeat at the ballot box that Funcinpec received during April’s commune elections.