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Opposition party merger considered

Opposition party merger considered

Combined parties could compete with dominant CPP

As election results look increasingly

likely to confirm a landslide victory for the Cambodian People’s Party

(CPP), civil society groups have begun suggesting that the Kingdom’s

main opposition parties merge in a bid to better complete with the

ruling party.

In an interview Sunday with a civil society radio

program, Thun Saray, president of the Cambodian Human Rights Action

Committee (CHRAC), said that if the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), Human

Rights Party (HRP) and Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) enter into a

coalition, they could pool their political power.

Mu Sochua, the

deputy secretary-general of SRP, said by telephone Sunday that the

three parties could merge because they share the same goal to eliminate

poverty and corruption.

“We could merge into one big vote in

parliament, but we have not yet talked about one big party. But we have

much optimism to merge,” Mu Sochua said.

Chea Vannath, an

independent analyst and former director of the Center for Social

Development, said the parties should join to help develop the country,

while Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association,

also said merging is an important point for the three parties because

it would make them stronger.

Chan Sophal also said that a merger

would make it easier on voters, explaining that instead of dividing the

electorate, it could make for an easier decision to cast a ballot for a

single party. 

“When three parties merge, they are a good-looking competitor with the CPP because they have equivalent force,” Thun Saray said.

Protesting the election

NRP

spokesman Muth Chantha acknowledged that the three parties, who engaged

in their share of finger-pointing prior to the July 27 vote, could

join. But he said their first priority was to continue contesting the

election results.

The opposition is claiming the NEC rigged the

vote by eliminating thousands of names from voter registration lists,

giving the CPP an unfair advantage.

“We have long time to talk

about merging. We will not deny our ability to merge, but what we are

focusing on right now is rejecting the election results,” Muth Chantha

said.

“We lost because of two reasons: The first is the fraud

committed by the National Election Committee (NEC), the second is not

having merged into one party,” Muth Chantha said.

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