The nearly 700 commune councilors belonging to the royalist Funcinpec and Norodom Ranariddh parties gathered in Siem Reap this weekend to coordinate their efforts for the May district and provincial council elections, officials said.
The NRP’s 425 commune councilors and Funcinpec’s 274 gathered on Saturday and Sunday with another 200 royalist officials to confer about the election and improve cooperation between the two parties, Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay said Sunday.
“During the workshop we explained to [the commune councilors] to work with each other in the elections,” he said.
The NRP and Funcinpec signed an agreement last week to form an alliance ahead of the election, during which only commune councilors will vote.
Following the splintering of the NRP from Funcinpec in late 2006, the royalist movement took a massive hit in the 2007 commune election with Funcinpec losing over 87 percent of the 2,211 commune seats it had previously held. The NRP fared a bit better, but since then the party has lost its president and namesake Prince Norodom Ranariddh and is currently embroiled in an internal dispute over control of the party.
“This cooperation is an attempt to find success for the two parties and increase our seats,” NRP Secretary-General You Hockry said Sunday. “We will help each other. If we are split we will lose.”
Nhiek Bun Chhay said the parties will evenly split the number of councilors they manage to send to the district and provincial councils.
You Hockry added that the newly formed royalist alliance will not compete in opposition to the ruling CPP.
“We support the government. The NRP and Funcinpec are not opposition parties. We won’t challenge the CPP,” he said.
At 699 commune councilors, the united royalist vote for the May election is still far behind the 2,660 councilors belonging to the Sam Rainsy Party and the 7,993 seats held by the CPP.