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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Opposition infighting at National Assembly must stop: monitors

Opposition infighting at National Assembly must stop: monitors

Election watchdogs say minor parties have a chance to make a stand against the ruling CPP, but only if they present a united front

CAMBODIAN election monitors say the Kingdom's minority political parties must unite in the National Assembly if they expect to make gains against the powerful Cambodian People's Party, which holds an overwhelming parliamentary majority.

Four smaller parties, including the main opposition Sam Rainsy Party and former coalition government partner Funcinpec, have all secured seats in the Assembly following July national elections.

But frequent squabbling has left them exposed to divisions that could be exploited by the CPP, said Koul Panha, executive director of election monitor Comfrel.

"An increase in political parties is good for the opposition because it is an opportunity for the parties to unite," he said.

"But it could weaken them if they are separated," he added.

A fragile minority

Opposition parties, including the newcomers Human Rights Party and Norodom Ranariddh  Party, hold 33 seats in the Assembly, compared with 90 for the CPP.

Puthea Hang, executive director of the election monitor Nicfec, said unity was crucial if these parties were to gain enough clout to keep the CPP from having full run over parliament.

"Many parties are good but only if they can work together," Puthea Hang said.

"If they do not, it weakens the opposition. If they are not united from 30 votes up, they will not be able to force government officials to answer in parliament."

But SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said that the ruling party had always ignored the opposition's  opinion and would continue to do so regardless of how much fight the minor parties put up.

"It does not matter that we need 30 votes or more to force the government to answer us in parliament. They do not listen to us," he said.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the ruling party had no legal obligation to heed opposing parties. "We do not need to ask the opposition for

ideas, since we have not done anything illegal," he said.

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