The ruling Cambodian People’s Party is considering allowing
the Norodom Ranariddh Party a place in a coalition government, following the
return of its exiled leader to Phnom Penh Wednesday.
Prince Norodom Ranariddh returned from more than a year and
a half in exile over the weekend, visiting Siem Reap for Pchum Ben festivals
and arriving in Phnom Penh
He returned after a royal pardon was approved by Prime
Minister Hun Sen and issued by King Norodom Sihamoni, negating a 2006 breech of
The premier-approved pardon was a thawing in political
relations for the prince, who had been the main political rival of Hun Sen in
the 1993 and 1998 elections and a violent CPP putsch in 1997.
Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Wednesday the CPP
would first consider how to incorporate Funcinpec, formerly the main royalist
party and once headed by Prince Ranariddh, into a coalition.
“The first step is that we think about Funcinpec joining the
coalition,” Khieu Kanharith said. “But the second step is to think about the
Norodom Ranariddh Party joining the government. This is what Prime Minister Hun
Sen told me.”
He declined to say whether the CPP would offer ministry positions
to NRP members.
Funcinpec, which saw two lawmakers win seats in July’s
polls, has been assigned 30 high-level positions in a cabinet of 248: one
deputy prime minister, five senior minister positions and 24 secretaries of state.
You Hokry, NRP Secretary-General and one of three of the
party’s National Assembly lawmakers, said Wednesday he was not aware of any
offers from the CPP to join a coalition.