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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Royalist parties to merge this month: official

Royalist parties to merge this month: official

THE Kingdom’s estranged royalist parties will form an alliance later this month in a preliminary move towards reuniting ahead of elections scheduled for 2012 and 2013, party officials said.

Funcinpec Secretary General Nhek Bun Chhay said members of the boards of his party and the Nationalist Party (NP) had reviewed and approved an agreement Saturday, and would seal the alliance in a ceremony after the Khmer New Year holiday.

“We want to sign this agreement to create a Funcinpec-Nationalist alliance as soon as possible to boost our votes in the 2012 commune election and 2013 general election,” he said.

Nhek Bun Chhay said that by 2012, the two parties would register together under the Funcinpec name, adding that the parties had entered a “transitional period” in which the NP could inform members about the merger.

Pen Sangha, spokesman for the NP – as the former Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) is now known – said the future allies had not agreed on the name for the new party, but confirmed a merger would be forthcoming.

“The separation of the two parties has not given any good results for us, so we want to unite,” he said.

Both parties hope that the alliance will help reverse the slide in royalist fortunes since Funcinpec split along factional lines in 2006. At that time, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the party’s then-president, was expelled after being convicted of embezzling funds from the sale of the party’s former headquarters in Phnom Penh.

In the 2008 national election, Funcinpec and the NRP both fared poorly, winning a total of five seats in the 123-seat National Assembly.

Koul Panha, executive directive of election monitor Comfrel, agreed that a merger would bring both parties a greater share of the vote in future elections. But he warned that the reunified party should be careful to avoid the rivalries that led to the 2006 royalist split.

“The separation can make supporters feel disappointed and is a waste of resources that could be used to campaign for votes,” he said.

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