Funcinpec is not planning to merge with Nhek Bun Chhay’s Khmer National United Party (KNUP) as the royalist party’s charter would not allow it, Funcipec spokesperson Nop Sothearith said on Monday.
This is despite Bun Chhay being quoted in a newspaper saying: “The Prince [Ranariddh] told me during the meeting that he wants to reunite with my party.”
“Nhek Bun Chhay visited Prince Norodom Ranariddh on September 13, but they did not talk about the parties reuniting at all. A merger would cause difficulties in management and self-interest would override the collective interest,” Sothearith said.
Funcipec welcomed members of opposing parties who wish to join in efforts to “restore the party’s reputation”, Sothearith said, as it reforms internal procedures at the local and national level.
Its president Prince Norodom Ranariddh distanced himself from Bun Chhay and formed two separate political parties in quick succession – the Norodom Ranariddh Party and Community of Royalist People’s Party – while the latter led Funcipec in 2006.
The two briefly reunited under the Funcipec banner in 2013 when the prince was appointed its president.
However, in 2016, Bun Chhay and a handful of loyalists left Funcipec to form KNUP in an attempt to mount a stronger opposition to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
Despite this, neither party was able to secure a single National Assembly seat last year when Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP swept national elections.
Neither Bun Chhay or KNUP spokesperson Run Meatra could be reached for comment on Monday.
The Rasmei Kampuchea daily reported that Bun Chhay met with Ranariddh in Phnom Penh’s Veal Sbov commune for meetings arranged by Princess Marie.
“The Prince told me during the meeting that he wanted to reunite with my party, but the Prince asked me to discuss the matter with his son, acting president Prince Norodom Chakravuth,” Bun Chhay told Rasmei Kampuchea.
Kin Phea, the director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post that despite announcing their intentions for a political merger several times, the parties have never had “remarkable results”.
“Funcinpec undid itself, losing support and even intended to sell its headquarters. As for KNUP, even though Bun Chhay founded the party years ago, it remains unpopular.
“I think [KNUP] should find a partner with similar policies and royals within Funcipec should focus on their humanitarian work,” Phea said.