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Monday, March 27, 2023

Norodom Ranaridd, Cambodian royal politician, dies at 77

Prince Norodom Ranariddh of Cambodia, son and brother of kings, who served as prime minister until he was ousted in a coup, died on November 29 in France. He was 77 years old.

His death was announced on Facebook by Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharit. No reason was given, but Prince Ranariddh was in poor health after being badly injured in a car accident in 2018 that killed his wife, Oak Falla.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, the man who overthrew Prince Ranaridh in a coup and defeated his political party, said in a statement that he was heartbroken over the loss of “one of the royal noble figures who had a keen will, was extremely intelligent and loyal. nation, religion and monarchy ”.

Strikingly similar to his popular and charismatic father, King Norodom Sihanouk, the prince, driven by royalist sentiment, won the 1993 United Nations-sponsored elections.

The election follows the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements, which officially ended Cambodia’s nearly 10-year civil war. Prior to the civil war from 1975 to 1979, 1.7 million people were killed during the genocide under the communist Khmer Rouge.

Prince Ranaridh’s rival in the election, Mr. Hun Sen, a hardened former Khmer Rouge soldier who led the Vietnamese-backed communist government in Phnom Penh, refused to acknowledge the election results and threatened renewed hostilities.

As a result of the compromise, Prince Ranariddh was appointed as the first prime minister, Mr. Hun Sen was appointed as the second prime minister, and government ministries were divided between officials from their two parties, the royalist Funchinpek and the Communist People’s Party of Cambodia.

Prince Ranariddh, a law professor educated in France and teaching there, was unsuited to leadership in the harsh political environment of post-war Cambodia. Mr. Hong Sen, although he was nominally the second person on the team, easily outsmarted him.

“He had to work through the communist state apparatus, including the army and security forces, all under the firm control of his equally communist partner and coalition rival,” Lao Mong Hai, a leading Cambodian political analyst, said in an email.

In 1997, a two-day battle took place in the streets of Phnom Penh between two private armies of men; Prince Ranariddh, who had fled to France, was removed from his post as co-prime minister, and Mr. Hun Sen declared himself “the sole captain of the ship.” Dozens of high-ranking officials and military leaders of Funchinpek were hunted down and killed.

Mr. Hong Sen remains in power today, and he proclaims himself a strong man in a one-party state.

Prince Ranariddh returned from overseas in 1998 to lead a weakened opposition party. When he lost the election that year, he was named President of the National Assembly, a post he held until 2006.

The prince renounced any claim to the throne among many legitimate heirs, and in 2004, when his father abdicated, his half-brother Norodom Sihamoni was appointed king by the throne council, of which Prince Ranaridh was a member.

None of the brothers inherited their father’s charisma and political agility. King Sihamoni, who was a dancer, rules as a purely ceremonial monarch.

Former King Sihanouk remained a respected figure in Cambodia until his death in 2012 at the age of 89.

Prince Ranaridh’s political career continued. After being ousted from his post as leader of Funchinpek in 2006, he founded the party, Norodom Ranariddh, was expelled on charges of embezzlement, was pardoned and returned to Cambodia.

He later founded another short-lived party, the Royalist People’s Party, then returned to Funcinpek and was re-elected as party leader. The party never challenged Mr. Hong Sen again.

Norodom Ranaridh was born on January 2, 1944, and was the second son of King Sihanouk and his first wife Phan Kanhol, a ballet dancer at the royal court.

The prince was sent to a boarding school in Marseille, France, then earned a BA from the University of Provence in 1968 and a law degree in 1969.

He received his Ph.D. at the university in 1975, then took a position there in 1979, taught constitutional law and political sociology.

In 1983, after a coalition of opposition armies formed armed resistance against the Vietnamese government of Mr. Hong Sen, Prince Ranariddh abandoned his teaching career at the insistence of his father and became the leader of the royalist forces that received the inconvenient name Funchinpek. …

The party’s name is an acronym for the French words “Front uni national pour un Cambodge Independant, Neutre, pacifique et coopératif”, which translates as the National United Front for an independent, neutral, peaceful, economic and joint Cambodia.

Funcinpec was transformed into a political party in 1993

Prince Ranaridha has a daughter, Norodom Rattana Devi; four sons: Norodom Chakravudh, Norodom Siharidh, Norodom Sutaridh and Norodom Ranavong; his half-brother King Norodom Sihamoni; and several other half siblings. He divorced his previous wife, Norodom Marie, in 2010.

Sun Naring provided a reportage from Phnom Penh.

World Nation News Desk
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