Parties say the new Democratic Movement for Change will merge goals and platforms but preserve individual identities.
Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha at a press conference Thursday to announce a union of their opposition parties.
SAM Rainsy Party President Sam Rainsy and Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha Thursday signed an agreement to align under the name Democratic Movement for Change (DMC), with the objective of providing stronger oppostion to the ruling Cambodian People's Party. However, both parties have refused to confirm they will merge into one political party.
"We have worked together for a long time, and we realised the political trend in the world is moving towards change, such as in the US with [President-elect Barack] Obama. Therefore, in order to make a change, we have to gather all the democrats for unification," Sam Rainsy told the Post.
Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha said experts from each party would continue to study technical planning issues and devise a joint platform in hopes of making the DMC internally a stronger union and externally more interesting to eligible voters.
One party is stronger than two under a political alliance.
Kem Sokha said about 50 percent of the 8.12 million eligible voters in Cambodia would not cast their ballot for the CPP in the 2012 elections - and the alliance was hoping to draw all those votes behind it.
Last year, of the 6.01 million people who cast their votes in the national election, the CPP received the support of 3.48 million, the SRP snagged 1.31 million votes and the HRP won 397,816 votes.
"Eligible voters demand us to unite," said Kem Sokha. "Now it is time to give a choice to people who want to make a change."
He added: "We hope that our movement will encourage eligible voters who have lost faith to come back to politics."
Handle with care
Koul Panha, executive director of election monitoring at the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel) told the Post Thursday the merging of the opposition parties will gain voters' interest, but they need to work together carefully. Otherwise, the union could easily fall apart.
"I think that one political organisation would be able to change the result in future elections," Panha said. "One party is stronger than two under a political alliance."
The SRP and HRP have committed to making one list of candidates for the next commune elections, scheduled for 2012, and the national elections in 2013.
But National Election Committee Chairman Im Suosdey said the political alliance comprised two political parties and was not legally capable of making one united list of candidates.
"Within the legal processes we have, a list of the party's candidates has to come from one [single] political party. They cannot make a list of candidates from two parties," Im Suosdey said.