Cam­bo­dian Prince re­turns to pol­i­tics

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

PH­NOM PENH: Prince Norodom Ra­nariddh, a key leader in post-civil war Cam­bo­dia, has re­turned from two years of re­tire­ment to lead the party bear­ing his name ahead of up­com­ing elec­tions, a spokesman said Sun­day.

Ra­nariddh, 68, was elected new pres­i­dent of the Norodom Ra­nariddh Party at a party congress Satur­day in the cap­i­tal, Ph­nom Penh, party spokesman Pen Sangha said.

"The party mem­bers felt that only the prince has enough abil­ity to lead the party," Pen Sangha said.

Cam­bo­dia is to hold lo­cal elec­tions in 2012 and gen­eral elec­tions in 2013.

Ra­nariddh is a son of re­tired King Norodom Si­hanouk, from whom he took over lead­er­ship of Func­in­pec, a for­mer armed re­sis­tance move­ment against a Viet­name­se­in­stalled govern­ment in the 1980s.

Ra­nariddh con­verted Func­in­pec into a roy­al­ist party that won U.N.-spon­sored elec­tions in 1993. The elec­tions were part of a peace process fol­low­ing the fall of the Kh­mer Rouge regime and were aimed at end­ing three decades of civil war.

Ra­nariddh served as a co­prime min­is­ter with the coun­try's cur­rent leader, Hun Sen, be­fore be­ing top­pled by the lat­ter in a two-day armed clash in 1997.

Ra­nariddh's po­lit­i­cal pop­u­lar­ity de­clined and he was dis­missed as pres­i­dent of Func­in­pec in 2006 for al­leged in­com­pe­tence. Soon after­ward, his for­mer sup­port­ers in the party sued the prince for al­legedly em­bez­zling $3.6 mil­lion. Ra­nariddh fled the coun­try, and in March 2007 was con­victed on em­bez­zle­ment charges and sen­tenced in ab­sen­tia to 18 months in prison.

The prince formed a new po­lit­i­cal party, the Norodom Ra­nariddh Party, which won only two of 123 par­lia­men­tary seats in July 2008 elec­tions while he liv­ing in ex­ile, mostly in Malaysia.

In Septem­ber 2008, Ra­nariddh's half brother, King Norodom Si­ha­moni, granted him a par­don for the em­bez­zle­ment con­vic­tion. -Ap

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