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Opposition merger talks

Opposition merger talks

Human Rights Party president Kem Sokha urged Sam Rainsy to restart talks about a merger of the two opposition parties, according to a letter obtained by The Post today.

Kem Sokha urged Sam Rainsy, president of the eponymous political party, to consider merging by July this year in a letter dated January 25.

“The HRP understands that if we want a real democratic movement merger that can save our nation, we have a lot of affairs to discuss in order to build a unified alliance that will be stronger and more successful,” Kem Sokha wrote.

Kem Sokha said that a merger that lacked internal democratic reforms and merely distributed power among party loyalists would fail against the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

“The HRP understands that if we want to correct them, we must correct ourselves first,” the letter said.

“If there is no risk, there is also no change.”

The letter gave a timeframe for merger negotiations.

“The HRP wants to see the merger between our parties be successful before July,” the letter stated.

Yim Sovann, SRP spokesman, declined to comment today, saying he had not yet seen the letter.

Phay Siphan, spokesman at the Council of Ministers, said the suggestion that a merger between the opposition groups would help “save the nation” was an insult.

“When we use this word, it is a word of attack, a word of insult,” Phay Siphan said.

“We are not scared of [their merger], we are only scared of poverty.”

Kem Sokha’s letter is the latest in a series of related opposition unity discussions.

In November, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly urged the two parties during a meeting to form a united platform.

Kem Sokha said at the time that he supported a merger.

“The decision to form a united opposition, it is up to the Sam Rainsy Party. For me, I have always wanted to unite,” he said.

Yim Sovann said following Clinton’s visit that a merger could endanger existing opposition seats in parliament.

A proposal for the SRP, HRP and Norodom Ranariddh Party to merge ahead of the 2008 national elections fell through.

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