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Ranariddh's Absence Not Affecting Election, US Says

The absence of its nominal leader is unlikely to affect the Norodom Ranariddh Party during the campaign, US officials told VOA Tuesday.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh is not in the country and has been sentenced in absentia to 18 months in jail on charges related to embezzlement.

Ousted from government coalition partner Funcinpec, Ranariddh formed his self-named party but has not been involved in its day-to-day operations. Ranariddh has said his sentencing was unjust and that the the ruling Cambodian People's Party controls the courts.

Jeff Daigle, a US Embassy spokesman, told VOA Tuesday the court ruling had come suspiciously quickly, but that the prince's absence would do little to affect the upcoming commune elections.