OPPOSITION leader Sam Rainsy has appealed to all levels of his party to persuade members of the Norodom Ranariddh Party and Funcinpec to join forces with the SRP to wage upcoming electoral battles.
Speaking at the SRP's 4,000-strong national congress Saturday, Sam Rainsy expressed his confidence in the party ahead of May's council elections, but was quick to press the need for members not to "sell their ideals" to the ruling CPP.
"Some of our members were afraid of intimidation and some were bought, but the 2,660 commune council members here ... could not be bought," he said.
He added that a number of CPP officials were worried about the alliance between the SRP and the Human Rights Party, adding that the CPP had failed, and would continue to fail, in its efforts to destroy the alliance.
SRP Deputy Secretary General Mu Sochua agreed, saying that ruling party members, along with other non-SRP councillors, would be approached in the hope of encouraging them to support the SRP's "movement for change".
"The party is very strong, there is no doubt about it," she said.
"We, along with the Democratic Movement for Change [DMC], have made an appeal to all councillors, even those from the CPP, to think about the change needed to help struggling people at the local level."
But Funcinpec Secretary General Nhek Bun Chhay said that Sam Rainsy's public appeal was not wise and that if he wants to make appeals like this in future, he should do it privately.
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap also refuted Sam Rainsy's claims the CPP was afraid of the DMC, and said the CPP would remain untouched by the new cross-party collaboration.
"The CPP does not worry about SRP alliances," he said.
With the party now "unified", Mu Sochua said the SRP - with the support of non-SRP councillors who have become disenchanted with their parties - would be a threat at future elections.
"It will be a struggle, but we are a real competitor," she said.