Ranariddh Vows Not To Return to Funcinpec

In a statement received Tuesday, Prince Norodom Ranariddh accus­ed Funcinpec officials of attempting to persuade Norodom Ranariddh Party members to defect by falsely claiming that the prince will return to lead Funcinpec.

“I have reaffirmed again and again that I, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, would not go back to lead Funcinpec,” the prince wrote. “I have stood by my decision not to return to Funcinpec under any circumstances.”

Prince Ranariddh was removed from his position as Funcinpec’s president during an Oct 18 party congress that was hastily convened by the party’s Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay. The prince subsequently formed the NRP.

Funcinpec “has conducted a campaign of lying and cheating to convince members of the Noro­dom Ranariddh Party and people across the country that I, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, would return to lead Funcinpec in the near fut­ure,” the prince wrote in a statement dated Aug 27.

Funcinpec spokesman Nouv So­vathero denied Tuesday that his party had made claims that Prince Ranariddh would return as Funcinpec’s leader, adding that the statement should not be taken seriously.

“It is [Prince Ranariddh’s] dream that Funcinpec has cheated people,” he said, but added that the prince is always welcome to come back.

“Funcinpec has stopped talking about the prince, but Funcinpec will continue to accept him if he returns,” Nouv Sovathero said.

The prince’s statement comes after recent claims by both the NRP and Funcinpec that hundreds of members from each party had defected to the other side.

NRP spokesman Muth Chann­tha said Tuesday that the prince’s statement should end speculation about the prince returning to Funcinpec and encourage more of its members to defect to the NRP.

Puthea Hang, executive director for the Neutral and Impartial Com­mittee on Free and Fair Elections, said that the prince’s statement was issued because the NRP is worried about losing its members to Funcinpec. “The prince’s statement is an effort to convince people to stay in his party,” he said.


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