HUMAN Rights Party (HRP)President Kem Sokha has again called on the country’s opposition parties to join forces in a bid to challenge the dominance of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party at future elections, expressing hope that a merger could happen later this year.
“The HRP wants to call on all nationalists and democrats to open talks to create this alliance urgently in 2010,” Kem Sokha said at a press conference on Monday. He also chided the Sam Rainsy Party – the country’s largest opposition group – for not taking the initiative in the push for a merger.
“The ball is in the SRP’s court, so we will wait to see whether SRP plays or not,” he said.
Kem Sokha was “100 percent” certain of a merger between the HRP and other opposition forces, but said the SRP’s involvement in the plan was still uncertain. “If the SRP wants to merge tomorrow, the HRP will merge tomorrow,” he added.
Kem Sokha said that during his recent visit to the United States he noted support for a united opposition party that would secure Cambodia’s territorial integrity and bar illegal immigration. “They want to see democrats merge on a democratic basis,” he said.
Mu Sochua, deputy secretary general of the SRP, said the party’s stance on the merger had not changed, and that an alliance must be based on democratic change.
“We have the will to merge, but only a merger that would prompt change and strengthen human rights and democracy in Cambodia,” she said.
CPP officials mocked the notion of an opposition merger, saying the parties’ track record for cooperation did not bode well for the plan.
“The CPP is fearless,” said senior party lawmaker Cheam Yeap. The opposition parties “cannot live together for a long time. They have talked about a merger for a long time and so far they are still the same, it still hasn’t appeared”.
When contacted on Monday, Pen Sangha, spokesman for the Nationalist Party, would not respond to Kem Sokha’s appeal for a merger, saying that his announcement for a union of “democratic and nationalist” groups did not refer to any specific parties.
“Kem Sokha should be clearer than this: He should write a letter stating specific names,” Pen Sangha said.