KHMER National United Party (KNUP) secretary-general Sok Visal said on Monday that his party will merge with Funcinpec and that talks had reached a deadlock only due to the illness of the latter’s president Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
However, Funcinpec leaders have refuted the claims, saying their party does not have any plans to merge with the KNUP.
Visal said discussions between Funcinpec and the KNUP reached an impasse as Prince Norodom Ranariddh is ill and the party’s acting president, his son Prince Norodom Chakravuth, has been absent on a mission in France.
He said if the merger were to happen, the parties would “be able to accomplish more than we expect in the near future”.
However, Funcinpec spokesman Nop Sothearith denied that discussions had taken place. He said his party had no plans to work with the KNUP.
Funcinpec, he said, was entirely focused on the recovery of the prince, who was badly injured in a tragic road accident in Preah Sihanouk province in June last year that resulted in the death of his wife Ouk Phalla.
The Prince sought treatment abroad for his injuries, and he is currently awaiting confirmation from doctors in Thailand that he is fit enough to return to Cambodia.
“Even after the prince returns to Cambodia we are not sure. I cannot say anything for sure as politics changes very often. We are waiting for an update on his condition before thinking about that,” Sothearith said regarding rumours of a merger.
KNUP president Nhek Bun Chhay had earlier said in a commune council meeting in Chroy Changvar district on January 5 that talks had only reached a standstill due to the Prince’s illness.
“Some policies have been discussed, but the process is stuck as Funcinpec president, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, is ill and receiving medical treatment in Thailand. This is the third time we have held talks about uniting the two parties,” Chhay said.
Former party spokesperson Nheb Bun Chin, who was among four officials who parted ways with Funcinpec in August last year following accusations they attempted to oust Funcinpec secretary Soung Phally, said the merger was a good idea.
“It’s a good merge. I support it, but they need to give priority to the prince when making a decision,” he said.
Bun Chhay could not be reached for comment on Monday.