With election campaigning underway, Prince Norodom Ranariddh said from exile Thursday the only way he could currently return to Cambodia was for his party to win the election.
"My return to Cambodia relies really on the result of the election," the prince told VOA Khmer. "The people of Cambodia, if they are willing to see me to go back home, and to help the country…the best way is to vote for NRP."
The Norodom Ranariddh Party, which splintered from the royal coalition party, Funcinpec, ahead of local elections in 2007, is one of 11 parties competing in July's national election, and the only one to be campaigning without its leader at the helm.
Speaking by phone from Kuala Lumpur Thursday, Prince Ranariddh compared himself to former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who, ousted and exiled by a coup, came back to Thailand following a victory of a supportive political party in elections in 2007.
"But the difference between Thakisn and myself, Thaksin will now apparently not make any politics any more, but Norodom Ranariddh will continue," Prince Ranariddh said.
Prince Ranariddh faces an 18-month prison sentence and $150,000 fine, for breach of trust, if he returns to Cambodia unpardoned.
The Cambodian People's Party is widely expected to dominate in July.