Prince Norodom Ranariddh, president of the much-troubled royalist party, pleaded on Friday with Prime Minister Hun Sen to be lenient toward Funcinpec officials who are still committed to a coalition government with the ruling CPP.
Speaking for the first time after a political hiatus of five months while living overseas, Prince Ranariddh told more than 500 supporters in Siem Reap town that Hun Sen was an unofficial son of retired King Norodom Sihanouk and should therefore show compassion to his “elder brother.”
“Please let my message be conveyed to you [Hun Sen]: don’t harass your elder brother, who is your partner party, too much,” the prince said.
“Funcinpec is the heir to the party set up by [Norodom Sihanouk] who is also the father of Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen. So please pity Funcinpec,” he said.
Prince Ranariddh’s humbled appeal to Hun Sen came on the eve of today’s ceremony at Funcinpec headquarters in Phnom Penh where hundreds of party officials and supports have been invited to welcome the prince’s return.
But Hun Sen has threatened to sack any Funcinpec official who travels from the provinces to Phnom Penh for the festivities. He also said that the Funcinpec officials who sent the invitations would also lose their government jobs.
While several senior royalist figures indicated they would stay clear of the prince’s party, other members said they would defy the prime minister’s threat, which they said had no authority because the event was being held on Saturday, a day off from government work.
Ok Socheat, a close aide to the prince, said Prince Ranariddh’s speech was important for Cambodia’s stability.
Funcinpec is still a strong political institution and has 40,000 civil servants in the government, including 30,000 military and police officials, he said.
Ok Socheat also said the prince’s welcome-home party would be well attended despite Hun Sen’s threats.
“If the government does not have something for Funcinpec officials to do, they will come to the [today’s] reception,” he said.