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Cambodian prince flown to Bangkok hospital after car crash

June 19, 2018

PHNOM PENH: A Cambodian prince hurt in a car crash that killed his wife was flown to Bangkok for treatment Monday and is expected to recover, a member of his political party said.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh, a former prime minister and half-brother of the current king Norodom Sihamoni, suffered “some broken ribs” and leg injuries, Yim Savy, the secretary general of the Funcinpec party, told AFP.

“He was sent to Thailand as a precaution”, Savy said, adding that the 74-year-old was “speaking normally”. Bangkok has some of the best medical facilities in Southeast Asia and Cambodians who can afford it often travel there for treatment.

Ranariddh, the head of the royalist Funcinpec party, was riding with his wife Ouk Phalla in a campaign convoy in southwest Cambodia on Sunday when a taxi going in the other direction hit their vehicle head-on.

Phalla, 39, found fame in Cambodia as a classical dancer before marrying Ranariddh, died in a local hospital while Ranariddh was airlifted to the capital Phnom Penh. At least seven people were injured, police said.

A senior Funcinpec official told reporters at Phalla’s funeral on Monday that authorities should investigate the crash. “We just wonder how a convoy led by a siren car had an accident,” he said, describing Ranariddh’s injuries as “quite serious”.

Funcinpec is contesting national elections set for July 29 despite widespread international fears that the poll will be neither free nor fair after the main opposition group, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was banned late last year.

Relations between Ranariddh and Prime Minister Hun Sen -- who is looking to extend his 33-year-grip on power -- had long been fraught but the two former foes have reconciled in recent years.

The prince served jointly with Hun Sen as prime minister from 1993 to 1997, when he was toppled in a bloody coup led by forces loyal to the strongman. Ranariddh’s popularity and political fortunes declined afterwards and he was ejected from Funcinpec almost a decade ago, only to return in 2015 after several attempted forays back into politics. The royalist Funcinpec party was founded by Ranariddh’s father, the late monarch Norodom Sihanouk, who died in 2012.