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Thomico to create new party

Prince says royalists must unite or they risk irrelevance

CAMBODIA can expect a new royalist party following this month's meeting of the National Assembly, Prince Sisowath Chakkrey Noukpol told the Post Monday.

Prince Sisowath Thomico will establish the yet-unnamed party following the announcement of a new government, expected on September 24, Prince Noukpol said.

"We have many members of Funcinpec, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, retired members of the Cambodian People's Party and even some members of the Sam Rainsy Party who will join us," he said.

Prince Thomico will not serve as president of the party, though another member of the royal family has already been tapped for the position.

Prince Noukpol declined to say which one, adding that further details will be clarified after a new government is in place.

Prince Thomico told the Post Monday that divisions within the royal family have weakened the royalist vote in recent years and that steps must be taken to heal the rifts if a royalist movement is to survive.

"We are waiting to see if a new government will regard royalism as a way of pointing the country in the right direction. If so, we will cooperate with them," Thomico said.

"If they don't, I will not allow royalism to lose votes," Thomico added.

Prince Thomico previously served as president of the Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party, which he founded after being ousted from Funcinpec in 2006 before it became part of the NRP a year later.

NRP spokesman Suth Dina said no members of his party plan to defect.

"He is [doing this] only to serve his and his group's interests in government," Suth Dina said.

"I don't believe anyone will join with him."

CPP spokesman and Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment Monday.

Sam Rainsy Party member Son Chhay also said no members of the opposition were defecting to the new party and that Prince Thomico has tried this unsuccessfully in the past.

"I don't know why he's doing this, but I wish him success,"  Son Chhay said.



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