Prince Norodom Ranariddh urged voters Tuesday to not vote for Prime Minister Hun Sen, claiming a vote for the ruling CPP would be a vote against the monarchy.
In a speech broadcast on Beehive Radio FM 105, Prince Ranariddh, who is in exile abroad, accused Hun Sen of being an enemy of the Royal Palace. The prince, who is leader of his Norodom Ranariddh Party but faces prison for breach of trust if he returns to Cambodia, also said the prime minister is ignoring growing poverty.
“July 27 [election day] is the last chance for our country. Please do not vote [CPP] again; otherwise, the monarchy will be abolished, and if the monarchy is abolished, we will go to hell,” the prince said in his emotional radio address.
Drawing parallels with the fate of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed after falling afoul of the Thai monarchy, Prince Ranariddh said that Hun Sen owed his power to the country’s monarchy.
“What did the monarchy ever do against him?” the prince asked.
CPP National Assembly First Vice President Ngoun Nhel defended the prime minister, saying the prince’s accusations against Hun Sen were merely part of his election campaign. He added that a political party cannot decide the fate of the monarchy, and the CPP had no intention of doing anything against the palace.
“It is the prince’s trick,” Ngoun Nhel said. “Prince Ranariddh wants to raise his party’s profile.”
Recent statements by retired King Norodom Sihanouk that the future of the monarchy may be in jeopardy have been linked by Prince Ranariddh’s supporters to comments made by Hun Sen.
A reference by Hun Sen to the fall of the Nepalese royal family, which was abolished after 239 years May 28, and which the prime minister blamed on misbehaving royals, is believed to have caused deep concern in the Palace in Phnom Penh.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Monday that the prime minister’s comments have only concerned Prince Ranariddh and not the monarchy.