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Prince Says Opposition Unlikely To Reform Election System

Prince Norodom Ranariddh
Prince Norodom Ranariddh

Prince Norodom Ranariddh, a former key figure in Cambodian politics, says he doubts the new opposition will be able to enact meaningful election reforms.

The prince, who was elected prime minister in Cambodia’s first post-war election, in 1993, saw his role fade with the growing political power of Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party, including to a coup that broke apart a power-sharing agreement in 1997.

He told VOA Khmer in an interview that attempts by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party to reform election procedures and create an even political playing field are not likely to succeed.

“If I make an assumption according to the what is called my political experience in the past, in my view it seems difficult, because the National Election Committee is the foundation of the ruling party, the Cambodian People’s Party,” he told VOA Khmer in an exclusive phone interview on Thursday.

The prince said he and others want to see an independent election body.

“I welcome both parties to work together, which was the message of the King Father, my father,” Prince Ranariddh said, referring to a 2003 meeting between then King Norodom Sihanouk and opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

However, he said, an apparent lack of political will still stands in the way of true election reform, including selection of the National Election Committee, an independent leader for that body, and other technical issues that influence an election’s fairness.

Prince Ranariddh is meanwhile heading up his own new political party, the Community of Royalist People Party, which he hopes will regain some influence for royalists, who once held a lot of political power.

“I hope, as I am 72 now, that the Cambodian people, the youth, men and women of the next generation, will maintain the royalist regime,” he said, “which represents integrity and peace between Cambodians.”