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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