Cambodian Royalists Oust Ex-PM Ranariddh

October 19, 2006 by  


Reuters

PHNOM PENH–Cambodia’s royalist FUNCINPEC party ousted Prince Norodom Ranariddh as its leader on Wednesday at an extraordinary meeting denounced by the former co-Prime Minister.

Ranariddh, who had devoted less and less attention to politics since a 1997 putsch by his co-Prime Minister and arch rival Hun Sen, was in Malaysia when the meeting took place. His spokesman told Reuters the event was “illegal.”

A FUNCINPEC statement said the extraordinary congress had voted unanimously for Keo Puth Rasmey, Cambodia’s ambassador to Germany and a son-in-law of retired King Norodom Sihanouk, as its president to contest national elections due in 2008.

Ranariddh, a son of Sihanouk, won landmark United Nations-backed elections in 1993 that marked the beginning of the end of decades of war and unrest, including the Khmer Rouge “Killing Field” years in the 1970s.

However, he was forced to become co-prime minister with Hun Sen, who was appointed Foreign Minister and then Prime Minister in the 1980s by the Vietnamese after they toppled Pol Pot and installed a government in Phnom Penh.

Since the 1993 elections, FUNCINPEC had played an increasingly second-fiddle role in coalition governments dominated by Hun Sen’s formerly communist Cambodian People’s Party.

With Ranariddh at the helm, analysts and diplomats had expected FUNCINPEC to struggle to maintain its position as the southeast Asian nation’s second largest political faction, ahead of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

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