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Opposition merger moves forward

Leaders from the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties reached an agreement during the latest round of merger talks on Thursday to limit the leadership of party officials to two five-year terms and to ensure a balance of power should the two opposition parties merge, party officials said today.

Kiet Sokun, HRP deputy president and chairman of a working group for the negotiations, said officials had agreed to three points: Both parties will have grassroots democracy, limitations on party presidential terms and an equal number of leaders from both parties at the national level.

“We want democracy from grassroots to the top, not democracy only for the top,” said Kiet Sokun.

“Every leader in all levels must have two mandates [10 years] and the national-level leaders must have balance of power to guarantee the responsibility of work.”

Kiet Sokun said that both working groups had agreed to the three points, but details of the agreement had not been decided by each party.

Son Chhay, SRP lawmaker and chairman of the SRP working group, said the party can accept the mandate limitation for party president.

“In our Cambodian country, all power is in [government leader’s hand] and is very strong; it is dangerous,” said Son Chhay.

“The SRP thinks it is a good idea. If the party leader rules the party for a long time, it can damage the party’s interests.”

Cheam Yeap, senior lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said that SRP president Sam Rainsy and HRP president Kem Sokha have different visions and the ruling party is not scared of this merger.

“We are not scared of SRP and HRP merging,” said Cheam Yeap.

“I know the vision of the both parties’ leaders are not the same.”

A previous proposal for the merging of the SRP, HRP and Norodom Ranariddh parties ahead of the 2008 national elections fell through.

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