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Sides still spar over merging party names

Sides still spar over merging party names

Sam Rainsy said a new party resulting from an opposition merger should be called the Sam Rainsy Party, according to a letter he wrote to Kem Sokha obtained by The Post yesterday.

Sam Rainsy, president of the SRP, also said that Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha could be deputy president, but not president, if a new party were formed. HRP members could fill one-fourth of party posts, he said.

Kem Sokha wrote to Sam Rainsy last week to restart merger negotiations.

Sam Rainsy said the new party could change its name after the 2013 national elections.

He argued that the Cambodian People’s Party would find a way to force a change in party name if the party was not called SRP, citing as examples the Khmer Nation Party, the SRP’s predecessor, and the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party, which became the Son Sann Party.

Both the SRP and BLDP saw splinter groups break ranks and appropriate the original party names, creating a party registration conflict in the 1998 elections that was both encouraged and exploited by the CPP.

Tith Sothea, of the Press and Quick Reactions Unit at the Council of Ministers, said that the CPP did not influence the changes in party names.

“This is the painting of the opposition party. The CPP does not disturb the internal affairs of the opposition parties.”

Kem Sokha dismissed the conditions for negotiations and said the new party would need a new name.

“The HRP will not defect to the SRP by dissolving itself,” he said yesterday.

Kem Sokha said the one-fourth limit for HRP members would show they were subordinate to SRP members.

Sok Touch, a political analyst, said merger talks might be stalled by leaders eager for the spotlight. “The parties cannot merge because each wants to be all-important,” he said.

A merger bid between the SRP, HRP and Norodom Ranariddh Party ahead of the 2008 elections fell through.

Tith Sothea said the parties were too weak to threaten CPP control. “The weak party is making an alliance with the party that is nearly dead.”

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