Well-wishers mobbed deposed first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh during an impromptu visit to Phsar Thmei on Thursday morning.
“I just want to touch his hand,” one woman yelled as the Funcinpec president made his way out of the market at about 10 am.
Prince Ranariddh was lapping it up. “As you can see, the citizens are very enthusiastic,” he said as women tried to break through the phalanx of bodyguards and journalists. Many succeeded, and at least one young woman got close enough to give him a hug.
“The people of Cambodia are very eager to go and vote to change. Not to keep the same team,” he said, with sweat dripping down his face.
When asked about any possible alliances after the election, he refused to rule out any deals with the CPP. “We cannot say anything until we know the result itself after the voting.”
Gech Heng, a clothing vendor, said she was surprised by the prince’s visit. “I’m happy to see him today,” she said. “I haven’t seen his face on TV since the July fighting.”
Boun Chion, a wheelchair-bound amputee who received a Funcinpec baseball cap as a gift from party workers, said, “I’m happy to see the prince coming here. I will vote for him on election day.”
An aide to the prince gave 1,000-riel notes to Boun Chion and other beggars who rely on hand-outs at the market.
Prince Ranariddh had not scheduled any campaign stops for Thursday. He is expected to hold a rally at the Funcinpec headquarters in Sihanoukville today at about 11 am.
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