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Royalist poll merger begins at provincial level

Royalist poll merger begins at provincial level

THE Kingdom’s two royalist parties have moved to integrate their sub-national organisations in Prey Veng province, the first step in a plan to merge fully prior to elections scheduled for 2012 and 2013, party officials said.

The Nationalist Party and Funcinpec, which split in acrimony in 2006, agreed last month to reunite under the banner of the Funcinpec-Nationalist Alliance in order to bolster their returns in future polls.

Nhek Bun Chhay, secretary general of the alliance, said that at a meeting in Prey Veng on Sunday, the party marked the formation of a merged provincial election working group and provincial committee, which will field a single set of candidates in the 2012 commune council elections.

“The alliance’s organisation of its basic structure also aims to re-enlist supporters and votes after being separated for a period of time,” he said yesterday.

He added that the alliance would soon merge its operations in other provinces across the country, though he did not say which province would be targeted next.

Pen Sangha, spokesman for the Nationalist Party, predicted that the move would pave the way for success at the 2012 commune council elections, which will be followed by national elections in 2013.

“From now on, the management and members of the alliance at the basic level will have enough time to get ready to work together in order to reach our common goals in the upcoming elections,” he said.

The fortunes of the royalists have declined sharply since Funcinpec won the 1993 election under the leadership of Prince Norodom Ranariddh, and the party has lost seats in every election since.

In 2006, Norodom Ranariddh was expelled from the party after being convicted of embezzling party funds, and he formed his own party.

In the 2008 national elections, Funcinpec and the new Norodom Ranariddh Party – later rebranded the Nationalist Party – won just five National Assembly seats between them.

Koul Panha, executive director of local election monitor Comfrel, said the alliance would likely lead to better election results.

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