Appearing publicly for the first time since the two royalist parties merged, Prince Norodom Ranarridh told reporters “only” Prime Minister Hun Sen had the ability to bring the parties back together.
Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party announced they were joining together last week, after a six-year split, as Cambodians prepare for local polls on Sunday.
The prince, the son of former king Norodom Sihanouk, was forced from Funcinpec, once the main rival to Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party, in a graft scandal in 2006. He remained in exile abroad until his return for national elections in 2008, when he led his own party in the polls, winning two seats in the National Assembly. Funcinpec also won two seats in 2008; the ruling Cambodian People’s Party won 90.
Speaking Wednesday at Wat Phnom in the capital, the prince thanked Hun Sen for bringing the two parties together, and he vowed to work with the CPP to develop the country. He was also sharply critical of the opposition Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties, saying they had done “nothing for the nation.”
Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party, said he was unconcerned by Norodom Ranariddh’s comments.
“I think voters will consider the prince and vote for the opposition party,” he said.
HRP President Kem Sokha said the prince had shown himself to be a “poor leader, so he has no face to earn the support from the people.”
Cambodians will vote for commune council leaders from 10 different parties in elections Sunday. Campaigning ends Friday.