Chakrapong, Sam Rainsy Agree to Cooperate

Prince Norodom Chakrapong, pres­ident of the Norodom Chak­rapong Khmer Soul Party, and opposition leader Sam Rainsy met last week and agreed that their two political parties should “cooperate,” Prince Chakrapong acknowledged Thursday.

“I met Sam Rainsy last week because we are old friends and we exchanged ideas,” said Prince Chakrapong, who is also president of Royal Phnom Penh Air­ways. “We will officially hold a meeting between the two political parties in the future, and each party will express its political program and party’s stance in order to have cooperation,” he said.

Prince Chakrapong refused to characterize the agreement as a coalition or partnership. In addition to being “old friends” with Sam Rainsy, the prince said he is re­lated to Sam Rainsy’s wife, op­position parliamentarian Tiou­long Saumura.

Dozens of new parties were created for the last national elections in 1998. Then-co-prime minister Hun Sen had urged the creation of 100 new parties in a nationwide address in 1996.

The trend may continue for next year’s elections, slated for July. Former Funcinpec member Hang Dara’s new political party was approved by co-Ministers of Interior Sar Kheng and You Hock­ry on Wednesday.

The Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party will hold a congress Sept 22 at its headquarters, where the party will choose a pres­ident and secretary-general, enact a constitution and create committees.

Hang Dara said Thursday that “around 500 to 700 members” were expected to attend. “We want­ed to invite more than 2,000 members to join, but due to drought and floods, we decided to call less than 1,000 to allow farm­ers to save their rice fields and their living,” he said.

Members from Oddar Mean­chey, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear, Ratanakkiri and Mondolkiri provinces will not attend because the rainy season makes travel be­tween their homes and Phnom Penh too difficult, he said.

Sam Rainsy, meanwhile, will meet with his Cambodian supporters living in the US this weekend, said Phi Thach, opposition Cabinet chief. Sam Rainsy re­turns to Phnom Penh Sept 12.

Phi Thach said he didn’t know about the meeting with Prince Chakrapong. “It is good if it happened,” he said.


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