Sihanouk Won’t Help Ranariddh Reclaim His Job

Retired King Norodom Siha­nouk has declined a request to help his son, Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, re­gain his position as president of the National Assembly, according to a communique posted on Noro­dom Sihanouk’s Web site.

The retired King wrote in the message from North Korea, dated Friday, that he has no right to as­sist in the matter as he is no longer king.

“I have just received a letter sent from Phnom Penh by a com­pa­triot among the Elite who asks that I intervene to have [Prince] Ranariddh once again be Presi­dent of the National Assembly to re­form, with H E Samdech Hun Sen…that magical tandem that as­sured the happiness and the pride of the Khmer people, land and nation (sic),” Norodom Sihanouk wrote.

“As I am Retired I have not and will not have any right to intervene or involve myself [in politics],” he added.

Prince Ranariddh, whose em­bat­tled party has come under a bar­rage of criticism in recent weeks from Prime Minister Hun Sen, resigned from the presidency of the Assembly on March 3, one day after Hun Sen dismissed Fun­cinpec’s co-minister of defense Nhiek Bun Chhay and co-Minister of Interior Prince Norodom Siri­vudh. On Saturday, Prince Rana­riddh appointed Nhiek Bun Chhay as the party’s secretary-general, ac­cording to royalist senior minister Serei Kosal.

The appointment was not preceded by a vote, Serei Kosal said, though he added that he supported the move.

Prince Ranariddh hand-picked Prince Norodom Chakrapong for the position earlier this month. Prince Chakrapong withdrew from the position on Thursday, to the ap­proval of senior royalist officials.

Serei Kosal said party members are now urging Prince Ranariddh to speak to Hun Sen by telephone from Paris to try and resolve their dif­ferences.

“We want the two leaders, Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Prime Min­ister Hun Sen, to talk to clear all issues,” he said.

Information Minister and gov­ern­ment spokesman Khieu Kan­har­ith on Sunday welcomed Nhiek Bun Chhay’s appointment.

“Nhiek Bun Chhay has good com­munication” with the CPP, Khieu Kanharith said.

He also welcomed the proposed discussion between the prime minister and Prince Ranariddh.

“The big parties’ cooperation will ensure political stability,” he said.

Serei Kosal and Khieu Kanharith both blamed unidentified officials close to the prince and the prime min­ister for their recent dispute.

“Those people, they pushed [the lead­ers] to have disputes in order to protect their benefits,” Khieu Kan­harith said of the recent tension.

Hun Sen has blasted Funcinpec in recent weeks over issues including mistresses, incompetence, ne­potism and lavish spending by the Na­­tional Olympic Committee, which is headed by the prince.

Opposition lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang speculated that Hun Sen may talk with Prince Rana­riddh if the prince does not request any more appointments to government positions for Funcin­pec officials.

Hang Puthea, director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections in Cambodia, said discussion is needed so that Fun­cinpec government officials feel secure in their jobs and are able function better.

“The Funcinpec party is unstable,” he said. “The discussion will make the government efficient,” he added.


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