Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Going back to his roots

Going back to his roots

Prince Norodom Ranariddh speaks during a press conference at his home in 2013.
Prince Norodom Ranariddh speaks during a press conference at his home in 2013. Hong Menea

Going back to his roots

Prince Norodom Ranariddh is leaving his newly formed political party and returning to the one that he led decades ago.

In a letter addressed to current Funcinpec leaders Nhek Bun Chhay and Princess Arun Rasmey, Ranariddh confirmed his intention to once again take the party’s reins.

“I am honoured and delighted to be Funcinpec president upon your request to continue leading our party again,” the letter reads.

Though the letter offered no further details, a source, who asked not to be named, said that Ranariddh had made the decision to return to Funcinpec – which he led to victory in Cambodia’s landmark 1993 elections – with the involvement of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Prince Ranariddh agreed to return to lead Funcinpec soon after the prime minister’s negotiations,” the source said, before declining to elaborate. “The Queen Mother and the King have been informed of that information.”

Ranariddh will be meeting to officially inform the royal family today, he added.

A second source who maintains close ties to Ranariddh’s new Community of Royalist People’s Party (CRPP) said that Ranariddh, Funcinpec president Norodom Arun Rasmey and Hun Sen met yesterday at his villa, and that the premier had urged Ranariddh to return to Funcinpec to unify the royalist political front

Keo Puthreaksmey, head of the supreme council of the Funcinpec Party and husband of Arun Rasmey, declined to comment beyond confirming that today “Funcipec delegates will pay a courtesy call to the King”.

Likewise, Tom Sambol, who left Funcinpec to join Ranariddh’s fledgling CRPP less than a month ago, declined to comment on the matter, saying late last night that he was “in a meeting with Prince Ranariddh”.

An aide who answered Ranariddh’s phone last night also said that the prince was busy in a meeting.

Eang Sophalleth, an aide to Hun Sen, said he had no knowledge of the meeting with the premiere.

Despite once being Cambodia’s first prime minister – with Hun Sen in the role of “second prime minister” – Ranariddh has been largely sidelined in the political sphere in recent years. He was ousted from Funcinpec in 2006 and went on to form the eponymous Norodom Ranariddh Party, before leaving that to form the CRPP.

Over the course of the same period, the strength of royalist influence in Cambodian politics has waned. In the 2013 national elections, Funcinpec – the only royalist party competing – failed to secure a single seat in parliament.

It was not immediately apparent if Ranariddh’s latest move will entail a full merger of the two parties. He was unavailable for comment late last night.

When asked what interest would Hun Sen have in a revived royalist party, political analyst Chea Vannath ventured that the move could have the effect of weakening Cambodia’s monarchy.

“The prince is part of the monarchy, and it could damage the future of the monarchy itself, because it’s conflicting interests for the monarchy to be involved in politics,” she said. “This already happened in the past; the monarchy was affected by politics. So, for me, it’s not just a resurrection of Funcinpec, but it might go further, to [affect] the monarchy.”

“I do not jump to any conclusions, but the fact is, in the past, the monarchy was very shaky,” she added. “It is still.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA AND MAY TITTHARA

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub

  • Hun Sen: Don’t react to hostility

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged tolerance and thanked members of the Cambodian diaspora for not reacting to the hostility on display towards him by others while he was in the US to attend the May 12-13 ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC. In an audio