Princess Vachera Healthy, Back from France

Princess Norodom Vacheara, one of Funcinpec’s most outspoken lawmakers and King No­ro­dom Sihanouk’s half-sister, re­turned to Phnom Penh Monday af­ter a five-month stay in France for medical treatment.

Appearing healthy, Prin­cess Vacheara said, “I had been feeling very sick, but I’m better now.”

A strong proponent of Fun­cin­pec and the Sam Rainsy Party’s now-defunct Alliance of Demo­crats, Princess Vacheara was ab­sent for the final months of the po­litical deadlock.

At Phnom Penh International Air­port Monday, she declined im­med­iate comment about her party’s decision to join the CPP for a third coalition government.

But, she said: “When there’s something wrong, even in my par­ty, I speak out. Even with my min­isters, I speak out.”

She added: “Let me rest and to­mor­row I will speak out again.”

The 58-year-old said doc­tors had recommended that she stay in France for at least one year to recover from her illness. But, she said, “I can’t wait to start work.”

Funcinpec officials on Monday said Princess Vacheara had been suffering from a brain tumor and had undergone surgery in France.

Princess Vachera was received at the airport by a group of well-wishers from her party. Her young­er brother Prince Noro­dom Sirivudh, Funcinpec’s Sec­retary-General and now co-Min­is­ter of Interior, was not present at the time.

Ahead of the 2003 national election, Princess Vacheara had urged Funcinpec to merge with the Sam Rainsy Party in a bid to de­feat the CPP at the polls. But, she took a back seat to the political negotiations after the creation of the Alliance of Democrats.

Asked whether she had spoken to Sam Rainsy since Fun­cin­pec’s fallout with the opposition, Princess Vacheara declined im­mediate comment.

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