Former Prime Minister Hun Sen, who remains president of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), has announced that he welcomes any other political party that has the intention of forming a coalition with the CPP.

He released an October 11 audio message in response to announcements by 13 parties that they intended to form a coalition with the CPP.

He noted that he was satisfied by their requests, explaining that they would each be able to maintain their independence.

“The Cambodian People’s Party will not try to take control of any other parties. We are happy to work with any parties. We will respect them and treat them as equal partners,” he said.

“We don’t regard the CPP as a big party and think of the others as small ones. We welcome all parties that are registered with the Ministry of Interior,” he added.

On the same day, the opposition Candlelight Party (CP) joined with three other parties – Khmer Will Party, Grassroots Democratic Party, and Cambodia Reform Party – to form their coalition called “Coalition towards the Future”.

The former prime minister explained that he has already instructed a CPP working group to prepare terms of reference for each of the parties seeking to engage in a coalition. He will meet with representatives of the parties to discuss the contents of the draft cooperation agreement, before they are formally signed.

“We need unification between all of the parties in Cambodia, in order to achieve our goal of maintaining the peace and ensuring long-term development. We must join hands to protect our independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We need to preserve our constitutional monarchy, multi-party democracy, human rights and the rule-of-law, as well as the other tasks which are laid out in the Cambodian Constitution,” he said.

Hun Sen added that all political parties have a duty to eradicate “extremism” from Cambodia’s political environment. This will ensure solidarity, unity and peace.

In recent days, Prime Minister Hun Manet approved applications from 30 parties to join the Supreme Council for Consultation and Recommendation. The application of so many parties earned praise from Hun Sen.