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HRP-SRP merger evaluated

HRP-SRP merger evaluated

The Kingdom’s two main opposition parties yesterday expressed willingness to continue merger talks following claims by Prime Minister Hun Sen that he has possession of additional secret documents that could further split the parties apart.

Hun Sen suggested on Monday that he was willing to disclose documentation of secret meetings with opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

The premier’s comments came after the Sam Rainsy Party appeared to call off all chances of an opposition merger after a 2007 conversation between Hun Sen and Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, was leaked.

Kem Sokha can be heard in the taped 2007 conversation asking for Hun Sen’s assistance in securing Olympic Stadium as a site for a party meeting. Hun Sen apparently suggested that Kem Sokha should “grab” some SRP members.

Pol Ham, spokesman for the HRP, said yesterday that Hun Sen’s warning that additional leaks could be on the way was merely part of a strategy designed to avert any possible competition from a merged opposition.

On whether the HRP favoured a merger, however, he said: “Under the shoulder of the SRP, under the structure of the SRP, we cannot accept.

“We want to create a big democratic movement that everyone can come to join in a large house,” he said.

“We cannot dissolve our party to live with the SRP.”

Yim Sovann, SRP spokesman, said his party “welcomes the principle of a merger”, despite comments to the contrary last week, as long as it was under the banner of the SRP.

“The principle is that we keep the same name but we divide the work to do from the national level to the grassroots,” he said.

“We cannot pull down a brick house to live in a hut.”

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said yesterday that the two parties could pose a formidable challenge to the ruling CPP, and even win, if they were not impeded by their immaturity.

“I regret that Khmer politicians do not have maturity,” he said. “As I see it, SRP does not seem to want to merge.”

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