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Royalists form new alliance

THE Kingdom’s estranged royalist parties have agreed to an alliance in a first step towards full reunification ahead of elections in 2012 and 2013, party officials announced Monday.

Funcinpec President Keo Puth Reaksmey said the alliance – to be known as the Funcinpec-Nationalist Alliance – would be formed with himself and Nationalist Party (NP) head Chhim Siek Leng as co-presidents.

He added that despite poor showings in recent polls, the royalists are still relevant as a movement that defends the monarchy and democratic principles including human rights and the rule of law.

“This is the platform of the Funcinpec-Nationalist Alliance as well as for our future single party,” he told reporters at the party’s Phnom Penh headquarters.

Royalist fortunes have declined steeply since Funcinpec won the 1993 election under Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s leadership, and the movement has lost seats in every election since. In 2006, Norodom Ranariddh was expelled from the party after being convicted of embezzling party funds, and formed his own party.

At the 2008 national elections, Funcinpec and the new Norodom Ranariddh Party – later rebranded the NP – won just four National Assembly seats between them.

On Monday, NP President Chhim Siek Leng said that the alliance was a signal that both parties wanted to re-establish friendly relations and put their past troubles behind them.

“Both our parties were previously one party that was royalist, nationalist and democratic. Despite both the parties’ splitting in the past, we all have forgotten the past and regard it as a political experience,” he said.

NP secretary general You Hokry confirmed that the two parties plan to merge under a single name in time for the 2012 commune council elections.
On Monday, Cheam Yeap, a senior lawmaker for the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), congratulated the parties on the alliance.

“On behalf of the CPP, which won the election, I would like to congratulate them,” he said.

“Normally, parties are created with the aim of leading the country, so they will try,” he said.

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