Cambodian prince returns to politics

Cambodian prince returns to politics
Cambodian Prince Norodom Ranariddh shows a copy of his biography during a press conference in Phnom Penh on March 16, 2014.

PHNOM PENH - Cambodian Prince Norodom Ranariddh announced his return to politics on Sunday amid speculation that he is being brought back by strongman leader Hun Sen to bolster support for his government.

Mr Ranariddh, son of the beloved late monarch Norodom Sihanouk and half-brother of the current king, said he was making a comeback to unite the royalist movement and has denied any alliance with Mr Hun Sen.

But many observers believe it is a tactic by the Cambodian leader to harness the popularity of the royal family and draw support away from the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which made gains in elections last July.

"My only hope is to have a voice in the parliament in order to serve the nation and to resolve national problems," the prince, who was prime minister from 1993 to 1997, told a meeting of supporters in the capital Phnom Penh.

"My objective is to reunite the people as the root of the party," he said, adding that those he referred to were royalists who supported his father, who died in 2012.

However, he did not dismiss the possibility of some kind of alliance.

"I will not hesitate to form an alliance with a party that would be with me to take care of the supreme interests of the country," he said. Mr Ranariddh said he would register his new Community of the Royalist People Party with the interior ministry next week.

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