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Royalist alliance splits over candidate lists, party platform

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090126_05.jpg

Funcinpec and NRP to contest May council elections separately after meetings on royalist collaboration fall apart over points of principle

Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON

Nhek Bun Chhay’s Funcinpec will not be joining the NRP to contest May elections.

FUNCINPEC and the Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) will not sign a memorandum of understanding to create a Nationalist Alliance ahead of May's district and provincial council elections, Funcinpec Second Deputy President Prince Sisowath Sirirath said Sunday.

Despite a promising first meeting, negotiations between the parties deteriorated last week when they failed to agree on a common platform.

"Everything is finished now," Prince Sirirath said. "The discussion between Funcinpec and the NRP has been stopped because of disagreement on the words used, and some of our principles."

But NRP spokesman Suth Dina said that while it was unlikely the parties would contest the elections together, talks were only being put on hold.

"The MoU agreement between the NRP and Funcinpec is postponed because in our two discussions we couldn't find a common principle that both parties could accept," he said.

"But in principle, the NRP intends to cooperate [with Funcinpec] in the local elections in May."

Stumbling blocks

Suth Dina said two obstacles now stood in the way of the parties teaming up, the first of which stemmed from a new subdecree changing the number of district, provincial and municipal council members.

He said the other problem the parties faced was their inability to agree on a list of candidates.

"Funcinpec wants to put a candidate on all candidate lists, but the NRP wants to alternate the name of the candidates on the list and share the votes for all candidates," Suth Dina said.

"In a province where Funcinpec has many members in the commune council, a candidate from Funcinpec would be at the head of the list, [but] the principle is still in discussion."

The NRP spokesman said that, combined, the parties could win seats on new councils in 12 provinces but separately they could only win in six or seven.

Koul Panha, executive director of election monitor Comfrel, agreed, saying that alone both parties would struggle.

"By themselves they cannot gain more seats. If they negotiate, then together they could potentially gain seats," he said.

But, he said, in reality the two parties were bad at working together and have a difficult future. "They cannot come together," he said.

"They join and split and each time they do the voters lose confidence in them."

Negotiations first began almost two weeks ago as both parties attempted to rebuild following major losses in July's national election.

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