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Prince Ranariddh Planning To Form New Royal Party

Funcinpec’s secretary-general Nhiek Bunh Chhay, left, standing along side with Prince Norodom Ranariddh, file photo.
Prince Norodom Ranarridh, once Prime Minister Hun Sen’s biggest political rival, is planning to form a new party.

In an interview at his home in Phnom Penh, the prince told VOA Khmer he decided the country needs a new party because the two current leading parties—the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party—cannot resolve their political differences.

Prince Ranarridh is the son of the former king, Norodom Sihanouk, who played a major political role in Cambodia throughout his lifetime. The prince said he would like to tap his father’s political legacy and breathe new life into the royalists.

“I want to mobilize nationalism and Sihanoukism to form my party and restore the royal family,” he said.

The traditional royalist party, Funcinpec, which was once led by Prince Ranariddh, received no seats in the National Assembly in July’s polls. The prince’s self-named party, which competed in the 2008 elections, failed to make much political headway, as well.

But Prince Ranariddh said Monday he believes a new party is needed to help solve the country’s biggest issues, such as poverty, low wages for laborers and civil servants, corruption and the destruction of natural resources.

Royalists from his party could compete in commune council elections later this year, he said. Support could come former royalists and members of the royal family, and others, he said.

The ruling party and opposition have been mired in talks over election reform, he said, “forgetting about what the people need.”

“Have these parties discussed corruption in society?” he said. “Teachers’ salaries? Salaries for garment workers? Are these issues yet resolved?”