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The body of the former first prime minister is expected to be returned to Cambodia
PHNOM PENH-- King Norodom Sihamoni on Nov. 28 posted on his Facebook page that Prince Norodom Ranariddh, chairman of the Supreme Council of the King and his half brother, had passed away on that day in France at 3:40 pm, Cambodia time.
President of the Funcinpec political party, Prince Ranariddh had served as first prime minister following the national elections of 1993 and president of the National Assembly following the 1998 national elections.
"I just got the news from France that he was dead,” said Chap Nhalivuth, Prince Ranariddh’s half-brother. “He had been sick since the car accident.”
Nhalivuth was referring to the accident that took place during the political campaign for the 2018 national elections and in which Prince Ranariddh had been critically injured and his wife Princess Ouk Phalla killed as the couple were on their way to an event in Sihanoukville.
Prince Ranariddh died in the French city of Aix-en-Provence where he had attended university as a young man and taught at university in the 1980s.
Prime Minister Hun Sen sent a letter of condolences to Princess Norodom Marie Ranariddh, Prince Ranariddh’s first wife. " "The loss of Norodom Ranariddh is the loss of a great royal dignitary, who was patriotic, religious…with a strong will and a clear conscience," the prime minister wrote.
Born in Phnom Penh on Jan. 2, 1944, Prince Ranariddh was the son of the late King Norodom Sihanouk and Neak Moneang Phat Kanhol, writes King Sihanouk’s official biographer Julio Jeldres.
After his university studies in France, Prince Ranariddh had taught law at university in Phnom Penh in the late 1960s. Placed under house arrest in the early 1970s during the Lon Nol regime, he was allowed to leave the country in 1973 and went to teach at university in Aix-en-Provence, Jeldres writes.
In the 1980s, Prince Ranarridh served as personal representative of then-Prince Sihanouk in Bangkok and later on as commander in chief of his army. In October 1991, he was one of the signatories of the Paris Peace Agreement that put an end to two decades of war and conflicts in the country.
Elected president of the Funcinpec party in 1992, Prince Ranariddh became the country’s first prime minister with Hun Sen as second prime minister when his party won the national elections in May 1993 but the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) refused to cede power.
Tension caused by this situation led in July 1997 to an attack by the CPP forces, which caused the death of more than 100 Funcinpec supporters. As a result of what would be referred to as factional fighting, Prince Ranariddh was deposed as first prime minister with Funcinpec Foreign Minister Ung Huot assuming the position.
However, following the national elections of 1998 in which the CPP won the majority of the votes and Funcinpec the second highest number of votes, the two parties formed a coalition and Prince Ranariddh became president of the National Assembly.
King Norodom Sihamoni said in his message on Facebook that the body of Prince Ranariddh will soon be flown back to Cambodia.