Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Saturday appealed to deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha to return to the Funcinpec party, before issuing a warning to women not to trust the prince due to the “danger” that he would present to them.
Speaking at a special meeting of Funcinpec supporters at Phnom Penh’s Beeline Arena held to mark his imminent return to the royalist party’s presidency, Prince Ranariddh denied that his return is intended to divide the opposition CNRP.
“We have only one goal: to follow King Father [Norodom Sihanouk] to serve the nation,” Prince Ranariddh told his gathered supporters.
“Please, Your Excellency Kem Sokha, do not be concerned. And if you are the one who serves the nation, why not come to meet up with me?
“The royalists are open-minded. If the CNRP wants to come, please come, [you are] warmly welcome,” Prince Ranariddh said.
Mr. Sokha, a senator for Funcinpec from 1999 to 2002, could not be reached for comment on the prince’s invitation.
Speaking to reporters after his speech, Prince Ranariddh then invoked his own virility to issue a warning to any critics who think that he is incapable of leading Funcinpec back to success.
“Samdech Krom Preah is back,” the prince said, referring to himself using his honorary title.
“His excellencies see me as a 71-year-old, but I would like to tell women: Do not trust the 71-year-old grandfather, and do not desire to try him—you will be in danger,” he said.
At a press conference earlier this month, the prince also boasted of his strength despite his age, comparing himself to an old car that “can run for a long time,” and called for more female journalists to attend future Funcinpec press events.
Mr. Rainsy, who returned from France on Sunday, told reporters at the airport he was not afraid that anyone in his party would answer the prince’s calls to defect.
“I believe that the Khmer people understand clearly that there is only the CNRP that can bring change to Cambodia,” Mr. Rainsy said.
Prince Ranariddh is set to once again be named Funcinpec president at a special party congress next Monday, eight years after he was ousted as the party’s leader.
Prince Sisowath Sirirath, a member of the party’s permanent committee who has criticized Prince Ranariddh’s return as a “calamity,” said it was not new for him to boast about lovemaking.
“That is what got him in trouble in the first place,” Prince Sirirath said, in reference to the high-profile extramarital excursions that coincided with Prince Ranariddh’s downfall in the mid-2000s.
Yet Prince Sirirath said he would not actively oppose the former leader’s return to Funcinpec’s leadership, given that the party’s current leaders are already preparing to move aside.
“We abide by the request of Princess Norodom Arunrasmey and Nhiek Bun Chhay to invite Ranariddh back to lead the party,” Prince Sirirath said. “It is on the very modest advice of Prime Minister Hun Sen. We will go along with that.”