WASHINGTON DC —
After nine years away from the royalist party, Prince Norodom Ranariddh has been re-elected as its president.
Funcinpec, once the most popular party in the country, has fallen into deep decline, winning no seats in the last parliamentary election and struggled to keep its supporters.
Party officials say they hope the re-introduction of the prince will signal more unity among supporters of the royal family and help give the party new life.
In elections at the party, the prince was elected president. Princess Norodom Arunrasmy was elected first vice president. Nhiek Bun Chhay, the former secretary-general of the party, was elected second vice president.
Party officials say the elections mean Funcinpec can now begin renewed operations, with an eye toward defeating the ruling party and opposition in future elections.
Nhiek Bun Chhay said all party members were understanding about the reunification and are determined to unify the royalists.
It is not yet clear whether the party can rally supporters back.
Hang Puthea, head of the election-monitoring group Nicfec, said Funcincpec will have to work hard to compete, especially with its members scattered, and with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party moving forward.
The reunification means the party is not dissolved, he said, but “compared to the two political parties, I don’t think Funcinpec is a rival at all.”