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A New Royalist Party Would Have Little Hope, Analysts Say

Prince Ranariddh To Form New Royal Political Party
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Cambodian political analysts say a new royalist party would have little hope of success.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who once led Cambodia’s dominant post-war political party, Funcinpec, told VOA Khmer on Monday he plans to launch a new royalist party for commune elections later this year and the national election in 2018.

But longtime political observers say there is little hope of his gaining the support needed to mount a credible challenge to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party or the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.

Prince Ranariddh’s Funcinpec won the 1993 elections but were forced into a power-sharing agreement with the Cambodian People’s Party, led by Hun Sen. The party was ousted from the power-sharing by a coup in 1997, and its political influence dwindled.

“These days, it’s not as good for the prince to be a politician as it was in 1993,” said Nhiek Bun Chhay, the current secretary-general of Funcinpec, which won no seats in the 2013 national elections. The prince has lost the faith of the people and will be unlikely to succeed in politics, he said.

Prince Ranariddh, who was expelled from the party after corruption allegations in 2006, ran self-named party in the 2008 elections that won two seats. He then said he was quitting politics. But in an interview with VOA Khmer Monday, the prince said he saw a need for a new party to address public concerns overlooked by the ruling and opposition parties.

Sok Touch, dean of Khemarak University, said the prince will have to work to restore his reputation.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the ruling party is not concerned about losing support to the prince.