3 Small Parties To Merge Ahead of Election

Three small parties have agreed to merge in anticipation of the upcoming national election, party officials said Sunday.

The Khmer Anti-Poverty Party has recruited the Society of Justice Party and the Khmer Republican Party to join forces, said Kravanh Daran, president of the KAP. The groups will sign an agreement during a ceremony July 7, he said.

“We have similar policies modeled after Western countries,” Kravanh Daran said, adding that they will ask other small parties to join them.

Khmer Republican Party Pre­sident Lon Rith said Sunday his party agreed Friday to the merger.

“I met Kravanh Daran, KAP president, for merger talks and I also think that we are from West­ern [schools of thought],” he said.

“We are Khmer and we are working for Khmer people, and I think that [the unification of] democracy parties and royalist parties…will make us win the election, but it is too late and we hope for the next mandate,” Lon Rith continued.

Ban Sophal, president of the Society of Justice Party, also confirmed Sunday that his party agreed to the merger and will participate in the July 7 ceremony.

“We have the same plan to de­velop the country by working toward anti-poverty and against illegal immigration,” he said.

“We are not really against the ruling party, but we act for the Cambodian people, and we want our country to be a real democracy as you see in Western countries,” Ban Sophal added.

Party officials said they had not yet decided how they will instruct their members to vote on July 27 after they join forces, given that each of the individual parties will be listed on the ballot.

Puthea Hang, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Com­mittee for Free Elections in Cam­bodia, said Sunday he believes the merger is good for the small parties because then they can compete with the big parties.

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