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Ranariddh returns to politics

Prince Norodom Ranariddh talks to reporters in Kampong Cham province
after announcing his return to politics as head of Nationalist Party,
on Saturday. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

KAMPONG CHAM PROVINCE —
Former prime minister and political heavyweight Prince Norodom
Ranariddh has announced his return to political life, raising hopes of
a resurrection in the fortunes of the Kingdom’s moribund royalist
movement.
Speaking to more than 500 supporters in Kampong Cham province on
Saturday, Prince Ranariddh said he would soon return to head the
Nationalist Party, which plans to re-adopt its old name, the Norodom
Ranariddh Party, later this month.
“I am preparing myself to lead the Norodom Ranariddh Party,” he
said. “Doing politics is the same as being addicted to opium, but what
is important is that there have been a lot of petitions inviting me to
lead the Norodom Ranariddh Party,” he added.
Ranariddh, who retired from politics in October 2008, hurled
criticism at his former Funcinpec party colleagues, accusing them of
selling themselves to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in exchange
for posts and personal benefits.
He said he had rejected appeals for him to return to the party,
which removed him as its president in 2006, and called on all royalist
supporters to gather under the NP/NRP umbrella.
“Please members of Funcinpec, come back to me. What is the importance of rotten posts!” he said.
“I will not return to Funcinpec, because Funcinpec is just a party serving [the CPP].”
The Prince’s return could throw the ailing royalist movement into
further disarray, with plans for a merger between the NP/NRP and
Funcinpec currently in progress.
 
Since 2006, when Ranariddh was removed from his post as Funcinpec
party president in connection with claims he embezzled party funds, the
royalist movement has stagnated.

The two royalist parties won
only four seats at the 2008 national elections and a merger is seen as
the only way of reviving its fortunes.

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