PHNOM PENH, May 11 (Xinhua) — Cambodian Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Friday called on the kingdom’s opposition parties to unite in order to compete with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) in the general election in 2008. “We need to unite for winning the next election, leading this country to rule of law, fighting corruption and finding justice in society,” he told a local radio from Malaysia.
The opposition parties, especially the royalist, nationalist, liberalist and democratic ones, should merge for victory in the election, he said.
In addition, the Prince said that his Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) will send delegates to meet King Norodom Sihamoni, his blood brother, on Saturday to ask for a royal pardon of him.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court in March sentenced him in absentia to 18 months in jail for breach of trust over the sale of the co-ruling Funcinpec Party’s headquarters in the capital. He headed the party before October 2006 and later established the opposition NRP. Before the sentence was made, he had stayed overseas in order to avoid the trial.
“My case is politically motivated. I didn’t betray our nation,” he said.
“If I can’t get the pardon, I will become lower than other political leaders, who were sentenced by our courts over serious crimes but later received royal pardons,” he added.
According to law, Ranariddh cannot re-start his political life unless he serves two-thirds of his term or receives a royal pardon.
Meanwhile, NRP vice president Prince Chakrapong confirmed that a 19-member party delegation will meet the King soon.
“We will present him a petition bearing the thumb-prints of 200,000 people to ask the King to pardon Prince Ranariddh,” he said.
Ranariddh once served as First Prime Minister of the Cambodian government and President of the National Assembly of Cambodia. He was ousted from Funcinpec in October 2006 for neglecting party affairs and being unable to cooperate with Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Hun Sen’s CPP scored a landslide victory in the local election on April 1, while NRP and other minor parties only had poor marks.