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CPP 'unconcerned' by a proposed opposition merger

CPP 'unconcerned' by a proposed opposition merger

The ruling CPP party has said it does not feel threatened by a proposed merger of what it sees as two uncompetitive opposition parties

 HOW MANY

 SEATS?

The SRP and HRP together won 29 of the total 123 seats in the National Assembly in the national elections in July 2008. Party officials said they expect this figure would increase to between 37 and 40 in 2013 if the parties were to join forces.

THE ruling Cambodian People's Party said this week it is unconcerned by a proposed merger between the opposition Sam Rainsy Party and Kem Sokha's Human Rights Party, which is expected to be formally announced today.

Minister of Information and CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith said in an interview with the Post Tuesday that Prime Minister Hun Sen is prepared to face off against a strong opposition when national elections are held in 2013.

That said, Khieu Khanharith also suggested that the CPP doubts the proposed alliance will last that long.

"We don't know how long an alliance of the SRP and the HRP will survive," he said. "If they can unite, then the more intelligent ticket [the CPP or the opposition] will be the winner."

The two largest opposition parties are expected to announce today that they have agreed in principle to merge into one party in order to re-unite voters who support the opposition but have been divided by past disputes between the parties.

We don't know how long an alliance of the SRP and the HRP will survive.

SRP President Sam Rainsy has confirmed that he has been involved in discussions with HRP President Kem Sokha about the agreement but declined to give detailed information about the alliance before the parties had issued a joint statement.
The push to merge came following a call last month by Kem Sokha to unite the party in an effort to better challenge the political dominance of the CPP.

Details to be decided  

Yem Ponhearith, a lawmaker and secretary general of the HRP, told the Post that the two parties will meet later this year to iron out the details of the proposed alliance.

"We have agreed in principle, and we hope that we will move forward as one party with one list of parliamentarian candidates," he said.

Puthea Hang, executive director of the NGO Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said it makes sense for the two parties to explore the possibility of an alliance because of the expected increase in support such a move would generate in 2013.

 "I think that this is a good political strategy that can gather support from those who lost faith during last year's election," Puthea Hang said. 

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