Princess Denies Crossing Over to Opposition

With a “thank you for your kind offer, but no thank you,” Fun­­­­cin­pec lawmaker Princess No­ro­dom Vacheara said Monday that she has declined opposition party leader Sam Rainsy’s invitation to join his party.

In a telephone interview from Paris, Princess Vacheara said she may have disagreements with Funcinpec members, but that she still believes in the royalist party.

“I’m not the type who goes from one party to the next,” she said. “I will continue to serve my party until the 2003 national elections.”

Last week, Sam Rainsy said that he had met with Princess Va­cheara in France earlier this month to discuss whether she would switch her allegiance to the Sam Rainsy Party. Sam Rainsy said last week that Princess Va­cheara agreed to accept the offer.

Princess Vacheara, who represents Siem Reap province in the National Assembly, confirmed that Sam Rainsy had offered to let her run as a Sam Rainsy candidate in Kandal province in next July’s elections. But she said Mon­day that she did not give Sam Rainsy an answer during their conversation.

Pointing out that she shares a number of goals with the opposition leader—combating corruption and impunity, strengthening the democratic process and curbing deforestation, for example—Princess Vacheara said that her con­science, combined with personal and political concerns, would not allow her to switch parties.

“Still, my conviction remains the same and I will keep on fighting for my beliefs,” she said.

In July, Sam Rainsy told report­ers that his party was courting Prin­cess Vacheara. She responded then as she did this week, saying that she would remain with Fun­cinpec until the 2003 elections.

On Monday, Princess Vacheara said Funcinpec was “in a very difficult position,” due to its coalition with the CPP. However, this alliance should not bar Funcinpec members from criticizing the government, she said. In order to become a true democracy, Prin­cess Vacheara said, “We have a long way to go and, as long as the government continues on its current political track, I will keep on shouting.”

Sam Sundoeun, a Sam Rainsy parliamentarian from Kandal, said Tuesday that in the current political climate, one could not really speak one’s mind.

“Sam Rainsy said that, when he made his offer, Princess Vachea­ra remained silent. So time will tell,” he said.


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