Nurorom Ranariddh, a politician, human rights activist and brother of the late King Norodom Sihanouk, has died in a hospital in Phnom Penh, his office has announced.
Mr. Ranariddh, 77, had been in critical condition at a hospital in Bangkok since late last month. It was only earlier this week that he was named the caretaker prime minister of Cambodia and to head the ruling Cambodian People’s Party after the return to Phnom Penh of Kim Sok, leader of the Cambodian National Rescue Party, which had been dissolved by the country’s Supreme Court on May 9, the ruling party’s excommunicating of several opposition members, and scores of opposition lawmakers across the country in a politically motivated purge.
The former prime minister, Hun Sen, Mr. Ranariddh’s country’s most powerful leader, immediately presented his brother-in-law as the clear choice to lead the country to elections.
Mr. Ranariddh, a prince who led Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge insurgency in the 1970s, ruled as prime minister for 16 years after his brother was toppled by the Vietnamese invasion in 1979. He was a staunch supporter of Mr. Hun Sen, the iron-fisted ruler in power since 1985. The king, Sihanouk, who had lived in self-imposed exile for more than two decades, did not share the military dictatorship of Mr. Hun Sen. He died in Beijing in 2012.
According to The New York Times, Mr. Ranariddh, while sharing a cell with former Khmer Rouge members during the Vietnam war, helped launch a movement for a peace settlement in Cambodia that helped open the country to Vietnamese influence after the war.