Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Saturday urged CPP and Senate President Chea Sim not to accept Keo Puth Rasmey as the new Funcinpec president until the Interior Ministry responds to the prince’s complaint about his ousting.
Prince Ranariddh also requested in a Saturday letter that while he awaits the ministry’s response, the ruling CPP should “suspend and annul” cooperation with Funcinpec…. I am strongly against the new and illegal structure of the Funcinpec congress and its removal of myself from president of the Funcinpec party,” Prince Ranariddh wrote.
Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay held a hastily-convened party congress Wednesday and later announced that a decision had been reached to “elevate” Prince Ranariddh to “historical president.” Cambodia’s Ambassador to Germany, Keo Puth Rasmey, was then appointed as Funcinpec president.
Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the CPP recognizes Keo Puth Rasmey as he was elected by Funcinpec.
“We cannot do as Prince Ranariddh requests,” he said, adding that if the prince returns to Cambodia, he can attempt to convene a new congress to hold a vote to have himself reinstated.
Continuing the Funcinpec reshuffle, Prime Minister Hun Sen has asked the National Assembly to appoint Keo Puth Rasmey as a deputy prime minister and Prince Ranariddh’s wife Princess Marie as senior minister, Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said.
“This is to show the good cooperation between the Funcinpec and the CPP, now that Funcinpec’s situation has normalized,” Nouv Sovathero said.
Retired King Norodom Sihanouk issued a letter to the media addressed to Prince Norodom Ranariddh Friday, in which he threw cold water on the prince’s proposed new party. “The creation of a new political Party, called the ‘N Ranariddh Party’ or otherwise, will not meet with a warm reception from Papa,” the retired King wrote. “From experience in this political arena, Papa cannot, alas, predict much success for a new party presided over by You.”
Norodom Sihanouk retracted the message several hours later without providing a reason.
(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)