Norodom Ranariddh

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His Royal Highness
Norodom Ranariddh
នរោត្ដម រណឬទ្ធិ
Norodom Ranariddh cropped.jpg
President of the Supreme Privy Council
Assumed office
12 December 2008
Monarch Norodom Sihamoni
Preceded by Position established
First Prime Minister of Cambodia
35th Prime Minister of Cambodia
In office
2 July 1993 – 6 July 1997
Monarch Norodom Sihanouk
Second Prime Minister Hun Sen
Preceded by Hun Sen
Succeeded by Ung Huot
3rd President of the National Assembly
In office
1998 – March 2006
Prime Minister Hun Sen
Vice President Heng Samrin
Nguon Nhel
Preceded by Chea Sim
Succeeded by Heng Samrin
Leader of the Community of Royalist People's Party
In office
16 March 2014 – 19 January 2015
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
President of the Funcinpec Party
Assumed office
19 January 2015
Preceded by Norodom Arunrasmy
In office
Preceded by Nhiek Tioulong
Succeeded by Keo Puth Rasmey
Member of Parliament
for Kampong Cham
In office
2 July 1993 – March 2006
Personal details
Born (1944-01-02) 2 January 1944 (age 71)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Political party Funcinpec Party (1983–2006; 2015–present)
Other political
Community of Royalist People's Party (2014)
Norodom Ranariddh Party (2006–12)
Spouse(s) Eng Marie
(m. 1968; div. 2009)
Ouk Phalla
(m. 2009–present)
Children Norodom Chakravuth
Norodom Sihariddh
Norodom Rattana Devi
Norodom Sothearidh
Norodom Ranavong
Religion Theravada Buddhism
Website Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh

Norodom Ranariddh (Khmer: នរោត្តម រណឬទ្ធិ; born 2 January 1944) is a Cambodian prince and politician. He is the second son of former king Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia and a half-brother of the current king, Norodom Sihamoni. He currently serves as the President of the Supreme Privy Council of Cambodia, having been appointed by King Norodom Sihamoni for the position in 2010. Prince Ranariddh was the first democratically-elected Prime Minister of Cambodia and served as first Prime Minister from 1993 to 1997, alongside Premier Hun Sen. He was overthrown in a 1997 coup and was replaced by Ung Huot. Ranariddh also served as President of the National Assembly from 1998 to his resignation in March 2006.

In 2006, he founded the Norodom Ranariddh Party (known as the Nationalist Party from 2008 to 2010) which gained 2 seats in the 2008 election. Though voluntarily retiring in 2012, Prince Ranariddh has announced that he will join again politics and form a new political party to contest in future elections, known as the Community of Royalist People's Party (CRPP).[1]

Early life[edit]

Prince Norodom Ranariddh was born in Phnom Penh to Sihanouk and Phat Kanhol, a ballet dancer attached to the royal court. His older full-sister, Norodom Buppha Devi also became a ballet dancer like their mother.[2] Ranariddh was seperated from his mother at a young age, and grew up mostly under the care of an aunt; Norodom Ketkanya and a grandaunt, Norodom Sobhana. Phat Kanhol passed away from cancer at a young age of 49 in February 1969.[3] When Lon Nol took power in 1970, Ranariddh worked with the resistance leaders and was captured the following year along with several members of the royal family. Ranariddh remained in detention without trial until 1973 when he was released from jail, presumably under American pressure. Ranariddh subsequently returned to France,[4] where he pursued a PhD in International Law between 1973 and 1978.[5] He was subsequently appointed a lecturer in law at the University of Provence, now Aix-Marseille Université,[6] and remains one of the world experts in aspects of maritime law.[7]

Political career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Ranariddh joined Funcinpec as a special representative to Sihanouk in 1983.[8] Sihanouk appointed Ranariddh to be the commander-in-chief of the Funcinpec army, although Ranariddh admitted that he never learnt how to fire a gun.[9] Sihanouk resigned from the presidency of Funcinpec in 1989, paving the way for Ranariddh to become its secretary-general in 1989.[10] Ranariddh was elected as the president of Funcinpec in 1991, and in October that year, he led the party to sign the Paris Peace Accords.[11] When the Supreme National Council established under UNTAC convened in 1992, Ranariddh was appointed as a council member. Ranariddh spent time establishing grassroots support for Funcinpec during this period of time.[12]

Premiership (1993-1997)[edit]

Ranariddh's Funcinpec won the 1993 Cambodian elections with two seats short of an absolute majority. The CPP led by Hun Sen refused to recognise the election results. General Sin Song and Norodom Chakrapong, a half-brother of Ranariddh who had defected to CPP in October 1991,[13] threatened to secede eight eastern provinces from Cambodia.[14] The secession threat led by Chakrapong brought to the attention of Sihanouk, who proceeded to set up a temporary cabinet in June 1993 with him as the interim Prime Minister and Hun Sen and Ranariddh serving as Deputy Prime Ministers. A permanent government was formed following Sihanouk's coronation in September 1993, and Ranariddh assumed the role of First Prime Minister while Hun Sen assumed the role of Second Prime Minister.[15] The following year in July 1994, Sin Song and Chakrapong attempted to stage another coup against Ranariddh and Hun Sen, which was quickly put down by Nhek Bun Chhay.[16]

Ranariddh had appointed Sam Rainsy as the Finance Minister under Funcinpec in 1993, but Ranariddh grew to become uncomfortable working with Rainsy over his public allegations on high-level corruption and calls for fiscal reform. Both Ranariddh and Hun Sen jointly proposed to remove Rainsy in January 1994 to Sihanouk. Sihanouk rebuffed the proposal, and instead praised Rainsy over his activism through a public letter.[17] Rainsy's allegations also found widespread popularity with the grassroots, which Ranariddh sees as a potential threat to his Funcinpec presidency. In October 1994, Ranariddh and Hun Sen jointly dropped Rainsy as the Finance Minister during a cabinet reshuffle. Rainsy's expulsion as the Finance Minister sowed unhappiness with another cabinet minister and Ranariddh's uncle, Norodom Sirivudh, who resigned as Foreign Minister the following month.[18] In March 1995, Rainsy publicly questioned Ranariddh's acceptance of an Fokker 28 airplane and a $108 million Ariston commission during a corruption forum.[19] Rainsy's comments upset Ranariddh, and the latter introduced a motion to remove Rainsy as the Member of Parliament in June 1995 over charges of demagogy and failure to toe the party line.[20]

Ranariddh's relations with Hun Sen began to sour from January 1996, when Hun Sen reinstated January 7, the anniversary of the liberation of Khmer Rouge forces by the Vietnamese from Phnom Penh as a national holiday. The reinstatement did not sit well with Ranariddh, and 12 lawmakers from Funcinpec sent a letter of protest to Sihanouk over the holiday's reinstatement. A few days later, Ranariddh publicly accused the Vietnamese army of encroaching into territory in Svay Rieng and Prey Veng, marking the start of a pronounced anti-Vietnamese stand which Ranariddh was to adopt for the rest of his premiership.[21] A few months later in March, Ranariddh expressed his role as that of a "puppet prime minister" and also the roles of Funcinpec Ministers as puppets to the CPP during a Funcinpec party meeting. Ranariddh also highlighted delays of appointment of Funcinpec district-level officials to their respective positions, and a threat to dissolve the National Assembly before the end of 1996 should Funcinpec's demands are not met.[22] Ranariddh's aides from Funcinpec approached Rainsy's newly formed Khmer Nation Party, which was seen as Funcinpec's attempt to form an alternative coalition against Hun Sen's CPP.[23]

1997 coup[edit]

In February 1997, Ranariddh officially launched the coalition "National United Front" consisting of Funcinpec, Khmer Nation Party, BLDP and the Khmer Neutral Party to prepare for the 1998 elections.[24] Around this time, several Funcinpec Members of Parliament began to defect to the CPP led by Ung Phan.[25] Ranariddh was caught with importing a three ton shipment of rocket launchers, assault rifles and handguns from Sihanoukville covertly labelled as "spare parts" in May 1997. The ammunitions were seized by the Air Force, although Ranariddh's officials were allowed to keep the light ammunition.[26]

The coup was launched by Hun Sen on 5 July 1997, and Ranariddh was formally deposed as the First Prime Minister a month later in August 1998 during a motion of no-confidence in the National Assembly.

Later career[edit]

After initially fleeing the country, Prince Ranariddh returned to Cambodia to participate in the national elections held in 1998. Because campaigning freely was not allowed, his party suffered heavy losses yet managed to form a new coalition with Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh became Chairman of the Cambodian National Assembly.

He was chairman of the Funcinpec political party but was removed by a party vote on 18 October 2006, which was led by once his closest advisor and general Gen. Nhek Bun Chhay. Subsequently he established the Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP), which outpolled Funcinpec and is currently the third largest party in Cambodia.[3] In the 2008 national election his new party won two seats in the national assembly.

Succession issues to the throne[edit]

Ranariddh was an early favourite choice to succeed Sihanouk to the throne while he was in the Premiership. Sihanouk stated his preference for Ranariddh to succeed him during a March 1996 interview with the Cambodia Daily, following a medical check-up which revealed Sihanouk had been suffering from serious health complications related to hypertension. Sihanouk also expressed his concern over the continuity of Funcinpec in the event that Ranariddh succeed him, as the constitution required Ranariddh to relinquish his co-premiership and Funcinpec presidency, which may lead to a political vacuum within the political party.[27] A year later in August 1997, Sihanouk was quoted as saying he intended to have Sihamoni succeed him.[28] Sam Rainsy also noted Sihanouk's choice for Sihamoni as the successor in February 1999, although Sihanouk later publicly denied his preference for Sihamoni on both occasions, stating that the successor to the throne may only be determined via the privy council.[29]

Ranariddh continued to be seen as a possible successor to the throne until 2002,[28] although he had expressed uncertainty over his future between taking the throne or remaining in politics during an interview with Reuters in July 2001.[30] The government led by Hun Sen and Chea Sim similarly identified Ranariddh and Sihamoni as potential successors, although in private they preferred the latter due to his non-involvement in politics.[31] At the end of 2002, Ranariddh renounced his interest for the throne, stating that his preference for a career in politics. In an interview in December 2004, Ranariddh disclosed that he had been offered the throne by Sihanouk and Monireath, which he declined. Observers such as Harish Mehta reasoned that Ranariddh decision to remain in politics would wield him more influence as compared to taking the throne.[32] When the throne council convened in October 2004 to officially select Sihanouk's successor, Ranariddh was part of the council which unanimously chose Norodom Sihamoni to be the next king.[33]

Return from exile[edit]

Monarchical styles of
Norodom Ranariddh
Coat of arms of Cambodia.svg
Reference style His Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir
Prince Norodom Ranariddh speaking with interviewers from the Voice of America in February 2014.

After Prime Minister Hun Sen was re-elected in the 2008 Cambodian elections, King Norodom Sihamoni granted a royal pardon upon the request of the re-elected Prime Minister. Ranariddh had been sentenced in absentia to 18 months imprisonment in March 2007 in a political show trial over a US$3.6 million property sale. The court ruled he improperly sold his former political party headquarters and used proceeds from the sale to purchase another property in his own name. The building had actually been part of the house of his father-in-law, Eng Meas (who had been murdered by the Communists), and had been given to him and his wife in 1991 because his own house was occupied by a Russian diplomat who did not want to vacate it.

When he returned, half of the house became the party headquarters, and he lived in the other half. All serious commentators on Cambodia viewed the court ruling as a political move to try to remove the influence of Prince Ranariddh and force him from the country, and this is what happened. Shortly after he was pardoned, he read out a letter on television thanking King Sihamoni, his half-brother, for giving him "full freedom in order to join in the development of the nation." The prince also thanked Prime Minister Hun Sen for helping to arrange the royal pardon for him and said that he would return to Cambodia soon: he subsequently returned, and has retired from politics taking part in promoting charity work in the country partly through the Norodom Ranariddh Foundation.

On 12 December 2008, King Norodom Sihamoni selected him as chief advisor of his advisory court, the Privy Council President of the Supreme Privy Council to HM the King of Kingdom of Cambodia with the rank of Prime Minister.[34]

Prince Norodom Ranariddh has formed a new party called the Community of Royalist People's Party to contest in future elections.[35]


Royal Family of Cambodia
Royal Arms of Cambodia

HM The King

HM The Queen Mother

  • HRH Prince Norodom Ranariddh
    HRH Princess Norodom Phalla Ranariddh
  • HRH Princess Norodom Bopha Devi
    • HRH Princess Sisowath Moni Kossoma
    • HRH Princess Sisowath Kalyan Tevi
    • Keo Chinsita Forsinetti
    • HRH Prince Sisowath Chivannariddh
    • HRH Prince Sisowath Veakchiravuddh
  • HRH Prince Norodom Yuvaneath
    HRH Princess Norodom Kim Yuvaneath
    • HRH Princess Norodom Chhavann-rangsi
    • HRH Prince Norodom Yuveakduri
    • HRH Prince Norodom Veakchearavouth
      HRH Princess Norodom Veakchearavouth
    • HRH Prince Norodom Veakcharin
    • HRH Princess Norodom Pekina
    • HRH Princess Norodom Yuveakdevi
  • HRH Prince Norodom Chakrapong
    HRH Princess Norodom Kachanipha Chakrapong
    • HRH Prince Norodom Buddhapong
    • HRH Prince Norodom Amarithivong
    • HRH Prince Norodom Naravong
    • HRH Prince Norodom Narithipong
    • HRH Prince Norodom Ravichak
    • HRH Princess Norodom Nanda Dévi
    • HRH Princess Norodom Vimalea
    • HRH Princess Norodom Bophary
    • HRH Prince Norodom Ithipong
    • HRH Prince Norodom Rindra
    • HRH Prince Norodom Charurak
    • HRH Prince Norodom Pongmonireth
    • HRH Princess Norodom Pongsoriya
  • HRH Princess Norodom Narindrapong
    • HRH Princess Norodom Simonarine
    • HRH Princess Norodom Moninouk
  • HRH Princess Norodom Arunrasmy
    HE Keo Puth Rasmey
    • HRH Prince Sisowath Nakia
    • HRH Prince Sisowath Nando
    • HRH Princess Sisowath Sirikith Nathalie
    • HRH Princess Keo Ponita
    • HRH Prince Keo Khemuni

Ranariddh has had two wives:

  1. Princess Eng Marie to whom he married in 1968,[36] with whom he had 2 sons and one daughter.[37] The couple formally divorced in 2009.[38]
  2. Ouk Phalla, a former classical dancer with the Royal Ballet (and a member of the Royal family through the Sisowath line) with whom he has two sons.

Before he was pardoned, he was living in Kuala Lumpur with his second wife and his son, Prince Norodom Sothearidh. Prince Norodom Ranavong was born in December 2011.[39]


  1. ^ "Cambodian prince returns to politics". Channel NewsAsia. 16 March 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Mehta (2001), p. xxiii
  3. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 4-5
  4. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 37-39
  5. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 49
  6. ^ Norodom Ranariddh - Biography
  7. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 60
  8. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 140
  9. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 68
  10. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 82
  11. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 184
  12. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 88
  13. ^ Harish (2013), p. 241
  14. ^ Harish (2013), p. 242
  15. ^ Harish (2013), p. 239
  16. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 158
  17. ^ Ker Munthit (28 January 1994). "King sends Rainsy message of support". Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  18. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 142
  19. ^ Matthew Grainger (10 March 1995). "Hun Sen steals show at corruption forum". Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  20. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 180
  21. ^ Post Staff (27 December 1996). "Realities and visions in a year of contrasts". Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  22. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 215
  23. ^ Jason Barber (22 March 1996). "Ranariddh warms to Rainsy; CPP keeps its cool". Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  24. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 295
  25. ^ Post Staff (2 May 1997). "Funcinpec loyalties put to the test". Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  26. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 244-5
  27. ^ Jason Barber (22 March 1996). "Royal trumps on the table, aces up the sleeve". Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  28. ^ a b Harish (2013), p. 306
  29. ^ Nanho Sawano (4 February 1999). "King Denies Kingmaking". The Cambodia Daily. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  30. ^ Hillary Jackson (19 September 2001). "Cambodian Prince torn between politics and throne". New Straits Times (originally from Reuters). p. 6. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  31. ^ Harish (2013), p. 300-1
  32. ^ Harish (2013), p. 307
  33. ^ Yun Samean (15 October 2004). "Throne Council Selects Sihamoni to be the Next King". The Cambodia Daily. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  34. ^ [1]
  35. ^ Heng, Reaksmey (25 February 2014). "Prince Ranariddh Planning To Form New Royal Party". VOA. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  36. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 278
  37. ^ Court starts adultery case against Cambodian Prince Ranariddh, March 18, 2007, People's Daily Online
  38. ^ Sex and punishment: Cambodia’s adultery law, 28 October 2010, The Phnom Penh post
  39. ^ [2]


  • Mehta, Harish C. & Julie B., Strongman: The Extraordinary Life of Hun Sen: The Extraordinary Life of Hun Sen, Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd, 2013, ISBN 9814484601
  • Mehta, Harish C., Warrior Prince: Norodom Ranariddh, Son of King Sihanouk of Cambodia, Graham Brash, 2001, ISBN 9812180869
  • Widyono, Benny, Dancing in Shadows: Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge, and the United Nations in Cambodia, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008, ISBN 0742555534

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Hun Sen
Prime Minister of Cambodia
Succeeded by
Ung Huot
Preceded by
Chea Sim
President of the National Assembly of Cambodia
Succeeded by
Heng Samrin
Party political offices
New office President of the Community of Royalist People's Party
New office President of the Norodom Ranariddh Party
Succeeded by
Chhim Siek Leng
Preceded by
Nhiek Tioulong
President of the Funcinpec Party
Succeeded by
Keo Puth Rasmey