on Thu, 10/02/2008 –
Prince Norodom RanariddhPhnom Penh – Cambodia’s Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who became the country’s first democratically elected prime minister in memory in 1993, announced his political retirement Thursday.
He announced his decision at a formal dinner in the capital.
Ranariddh, a son of former king Norodom Sihanouk, said he had told his half brother, King Norodom Sihamoni, Thursday morning that he believed he could serve the country better in another capacity.
“This morning, I told the Cambodian king that … I will no longer be involved in politics. I told the king I want to retire. I have served Cambodia for 25 years,” he told reporters in the capital.
The prince has been in self-imposed exile in Malaysia following a conviction in absentia last year. He was sentenced to 18 months of jail for embezzling 3.6 million dollars from the sale of the headquarters of the Funcinpec party.
Last week, Sihamoni granted Ranariddh a royal pardon – a move supported by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
In 1993, Ranariddh narrowly won the nation’s first democratic elections since before the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime with the Funcinpec party and formed a coalition with Hun Sen.
He was ousted in 1997 “factional fighting.”
After Funcinpec sacked him over the sale of its headquarters, which Ranariddh maintains was a politically motivated charge, he set up the Norodom Ranariddh Party.
That party won two seats in the July 27 national elections. However, Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party collected 90 out of a total of 123 seats.
Ranariddh did not say who would take the reins of his self-named party after his retirement. (dpa)