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Cambodian prince quits politics for second time

AFP, Cambodian Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Friday announced that he was quitting politics for a second time after he was perceived as an obstacle to a merger between royalist parties.

The son of beloved former king Norodom Sihanouk agreed in May to combine his eponymous Norodom Ranariddh Party with Funcinpec in a bid to reinvigorate the royalist movement ahead of next year’s general elections.

“I would like to announce, from now on, that I stop doing politics and will not take responsibility for any work and decisions made by the Norodom Ranariddh Party any more,” Ranariddh said in a statement.

The prince did not provide the motive behind his decision to leave politics but it comes after senior officials from both parties accused him of standing in the way of a smooth merger, in an apparent clash of personalities.

Ranariddh was ejected from Funcinpec in 2006 for alleged fraud involving the illegal sale of the party’s headquarters. He formed his own party shortly afterwards.

The prince was sentenced in absentia to 18 months in jail over the charges the following year and quit politics in late 2008 after receiving a royal pardon.

He returned to the political scene in late 2010, vowing to re-unite the royalists.

The prince’s political career began with great promise when, in 1993 as head of Funcinpec, he won Cambodia’s UN-sponsored election.

But he was forced to accept a co-prime minister — the current premier Hun Sen — who then ousted him in a bloody coup in 1997.

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