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No fun in Funcinpec merger

No fun in Funcinpec merger

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Prince Norodom Ranariddh speaks to reporters at his house in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

In the latest from a souring political relationship that is beginning to resemble a teenage breakup, the head of the Norodom Ranariddh Party said yesterday the planned union with Funcinpec, agreed to less than a month ago, was kaput.

“I have already written a letter to [Prime Minister Hun Sen] telling him about the reason that I cannot continue merging with Funcinpec", Norodom Ranariddh said at a press conference in his home.

The two royalist parties had initially agreed to unite on May 24, a move encouraged by Hun Sen, but the blooming relationship quickly wilted.

At his home, Ranariddh laid blame for the failure on differences between him and the president of Funcinpec, Nhek Bun Chhay, who accused Ranariddh on Monday of harbouring support for unnamed opposition parties.

Ranariddh took the opportunity to turn the announcement into a recruitment drive, calling Funcinpec party members to jump ship and join NRP.

The response from Funcinpec yesterday was measured. In a statement, the party expressed regret the merger failed to proceed. But it also seemed to hold out hope the seemingly doomed plan could be salvaged.

“Funcinpec would like to reconfirm its strong stance that Funcinpec still respects the joint statement dated May 24, 2012, for the royalist merger and will continue to urge the process of this merger in the case that NRP says its stance is the same as Funcipec,” the statement reads.

Contacted by the Post yesterday, lower-ranking members of both parties reacted with optimism.

Chin Sothea, president of Funcinpec in Stung Treng, said it isn’t a problem as long as the party is “led progressively”.

An NRP council member in Kampong Cham province, Norng Sambo, said either outcome would work, but the royalist parties are accustomed to going it alone.

“Both parties used to be split, so it is not important that they are merged,” he said.

In other merger news, a potential combination of the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties appears to remain on track. Delegations from the two parties are supposed to meet in Manila in mid-July, SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday. He did not specify a date.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meas Sokchea at [email protected]

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