PHNOM PENH, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- Princess Norodom Arun Rasmey, the youngest daughter of Cambodia's late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, will be elected as the President of the royalist political party Funcinpec to contest in July's general elections, the party's spokesman Tum Sambol said on Saturday.
Princess Norodom Arun Rasmey is currently serving as Cambodian ambassador to Malaysia.
"The princess has already agreed to accept the position at the request of the party's board members and she will be officially elected as the party's president during the party congress on March 21," he told Xinhua over telephone.
He said that the party decided to choose the princess for the position because she came from a political background with an impeccable resume.
"More importantly, Funcinpec is a royalist party, so it is our top priority to choose a royal member to lead the party," he said. "Another reason is that the party wants to promote women into politics."
Funcinpec was first founded by late King Father Norodom Sihanouk in 1981. Sihanouk's son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, led the party to electoral victory in the 1993 UNTAC-sponsored elections.
At that time, Ranariddh was co-prime minister in a "two-prime ministers" government with Hun Sen for four years until there was a bloody factional fighting in 1997 and Ranariddh was ousted from the position.
Since then, the party's popularity has gradually declined due to internal rifts and it won fewer seats at the National Assembly from term to term.
Currently, Funcinpec is led by Nhik Bun Chhay and Arun Rasmey' s husband, Keo Puth Rasmey.
In the last general elections in July 2008, the Funcinpec Party won only two seats out of the 123 parliamentary seats. At that time, the Cambodian People's Party of Prime Minister Hun Sen won up to 90 seats, followed by the opposition Sam Rainsy Party with 26 seats, the Human Rights Party three seats, the Norodom Ranariddh Party two seats.
Chheang Vannarith, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said Saturday the princess' presence in the Funcinpec will definitely improve the popularity of this party.
"Princess Arun Rasmey can promote the popularity of the Funcinpec not only because she is a princess, but more importantly, she possesses strong leadership with integrity," said Vannarith, who is also a lecturer of Asia Pacific Studies at the Leeds University in the United Kingdom.