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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Royalist Party out, Nationalist Party in

Royalist Party out, Nationalist Party in

Royalist Party out, Nationalist Party in

120814_03

Sao Rany, newly elected acting president of the Nationalist Party, speaks to reporters at a press conference at NRP headquarters in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

The Norodom Ranariddh Party will soon be no more after its members voted for a new name yesterday – the Nationalist Party – and elected a replacement for its royalist founder, who announced his exit from politics on Friday.

NRP Secretary-General Sao Rany, part of a faction that tried to publicly oust Prince Norodom Ranariddh last month, yesterday won the support of his co-members and will lead the party to its General Assembly on August 24 – and a likely merger with fellow royalist party Funcinpec.

“I thank the prince for resigning from his position . . . in order to open the way for us to unite the royalists,” he said yesterday.

“I was elected acting president of the [new party] and will help to stabilise party affairs before moving towards a merger with Funcinpec on August 25.

“We will integrate all levels of the party’s infrastructure into Funcinpec, and we will work under Funcinpec.”

The NRP changed its name to the Nationalist Party following the prince’s retirement in 2008, but reverted to its former name when he returned in 2010.

Rany said the party would use the name, which is still registered, in some form until the 2017 commune elections when the last of its elected representatives end their current terms.

NRP acting president Chhim Seakleng and party spokesman Pen Sangha also stood down on Friday.

Rany said yesterday he was withdrawing a court complaint he had filed against Sangha and Ranariddh’s former adviser and cabinet chief Noranarith Anandayath. “I decided to withdraw [it] to put an end to all problems in the court, now that the prince has quit,” he said.

The latest talk of an NRP merger with Funcinpec, a party aligned with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, sprouted prior to the June 3 commune election.

“We are optimistic that this move will gain us votes in next year’s national election,” Funcinpec spokesman Tum Sambol said yesterday.

But Koul Panha, executive director of election monitoring NGO Comfrel, said NRP supporters may be put off by Funcinpec’s CPP alliance.

“Because of this position, [the merged parties] will not gain many votes in the 2013 election,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at [email protected]

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