Prospects for an opposition merger dimmed even further yesterday, as Sam Rainsy rejected a request for a meeting by Human Rights Party president Kem Sokha to discuss the issue, calling his counterpart “insincere”.
Speaking by phone from France, where he lives in self-imposed exile, Sam Rainsy said the months of meetings between working groups from the two parties were useless because Kem Sokha lacked sincerity and respect for the “spirit” of the merger.
“Based on the report that the working group told me, [the HRP] does not have the spirit for the merger. Face to face, they said like this, behind the back they do like that – so it does not have the spirit, it is not sincere,” Sam Rainsy said.
“If we do not have sincerity, what do we talk about? It is useless,” he said.
Kem Sokha countered yesterday that he was serious about the merger efforts, adding that the Sam Rainsy Party president had dismissed the talks because he was afraid of losing “absolute power” of his party.
“He does not dare to merge with the real democrats because he wants to keep power. When he merges with my group, he cannot exercise absolute power alone,” he said.
Merger talks between the two parties have stalled amid attempts by Kem Sokha to woo SRP defectors as well as squabbles over a possible new party name. Sam Rainsy lives abroad to avoid two criminal convictions handed down last year related to a 2009 protest he staged to draw attention to alleged Vietnamese border encroachment.