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Royalists aim for gains

5 nhek bun chhay vireak mai

Funcinpec party leaders are optimistic that the absorption of another royalist party as well as the presence of well-known royal names on the ticket will help them win an extra eight seats in the national elections this July, a senior official told the Post yesterday.

Nhek Bun Chhay, secretary general of the Funcinpec party, said his party’s members plan to keep alive the legacy of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk – who founded Funcinpec – and would stage something of a political comeback this year.

“Funcinpec’s policy is that we want the country to follow the policy of Sihanouk. Social development must have justice,” he said.

“It is not like what we have at the present. At present, we do not have solidarity, we are separated.”  

Bun Chhay said that Funcinpec had selected 264 lawmaker candidates to run for seats in different locations across the country. Out of that total, 30 were women, he said.

One of them, Princess Arun Rasmey, had been tasked with lifting Funcinpec up out of the realm of political insignificance.

Since the ruling Cambodian People’s Party ousted Funcinpec after factional fighting in 1997, the party has steadily declined in influence. Now, including the positions it gained with the absorption of the Norodom Ranariddh Party earlier this year, Funcinpec possesses only four seats in parliament.  

Rasmey, the daughter of Sihanouk, is running in Kampong Cham province, and analysts have said that her royal name could help, and her gender could attract more women voters. Prince Sisowath Sirirath, a permanent committee member of Funcinpec, will also stand as a lawmaker, and is contesting a seat in Phnom Penh.

Bun Chhay said that he based some of his predictions on the fact that Funcinpec’s membership was increasing.

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said he agrees that membership is trending upward, but that Funcinpec cannot gain a significant amount of seats without bringing all royalists together for the election.

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