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Nhek Bun Chhay (left) shakes hands with Heang Rithy after finalising an agreement on collaboration between the KNUP and CNJP. Heng Chivoan

Small parties team up

Nhek Bun Chhay’s Khmer National United Party (KNUP) yesterday announced plans to “cooperate” with another small party, the Cambodian National Justice Party (CNJP), in a bid to gain votes in the June commune elections and 2018 national elections.

The announcement followed a meeting at the Sunway Hotel chaired by the former Funcinpec military commander and CNJP chairman Heang Rithy.

The resulting memorandum of understanding calls for the creation of a joint technical team whose “cooperation will bring good results for both parties in the approaching elections”.

By way of example, Bun Chhay said that if a commune candidate of either party appeared more popular, the weaker candidate would drop out and their party would focus on gathering support and votes for the remaining candidate.

“Our parties will prepare the candidates in [all of the] 1,646 communes nationwide. We hope to gain support from the local people who shape politics in Cambodia,” he said.

He declined to offer membership numbers for the two year-old parties yesterday, or specify the number of seats they hope to win. “I do not dare guess how many seats we will get, but our hope is high,” Bun Chhay said.

In the 2013 national poll, Bun Chhay’s former party Funcinpec was shut out, with every parliamentary seat going to either the ruling CPP or the CNRP.

Heang Rithy, founder and president of the CNJP, was previously vice president of the Beehive Social Democratic Party under Mam Sonando.

Rithy left the party and founded his own amid internal conflicts.

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