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Royalists join forces as prelude to merger

Royalists join forces as prelude to merger

THE country’s estranged royalist parties – Funcinpec and the Nationalist Party (NP) – announced on Thursday that they had taken one more step towards forming an alliance by deciding that their respective presidents would serve as the alliance’s co-presidents.

Funcinpec President Keo Puth Reaksmey told reporters Thursday that a new Funcinpec-Nationalist alliance would be formed next month, and that he and NP President Chhim Siek Leng would head it.

“We have agreed to have co-presidents: I and Excellency Chhim Siek Leng will be presidents of the alliance,” he said, and added that the parties would ultimately unite under a single leader at some point before the 2013 election.

The royalist movement – once a powerhouse of Cambodian politics – has been split since 2006, when then-Funcinpec president Prince Norodom Ranariddh was expelled from the party in connection with charges of embezzling party funds.

The two parties that emerged won just four National Assembly seats between them in the 2008 national elections.

On Thursday, Keo Puth Reaksmey said the two parties still disagreed about who should hold the position of secretary general of the alliance, but added that he expected the issue would be resolved soon.

Tith Sothea, a member of the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, said the ruling Cambodian People’s Party was not surprised by the alliance, and warned that the royalists must be responsive to the people’s needs.

“Do not be so proud with the small inheritance remaining from the past,” Tith Sothea said.