HRP and SRP Announce Aim To Merge; CPP Says Not Worried

The Human Rights Party and Sam Rainsy Party announced their intention Thursday to tie the knot on a formal political alliance, and plan to eventually join together as one single party to compete against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s long-ruling CPP in the 2013 national election, party officials said.

“Today, the Human Rights Party has responded to local and overseas Cambodians to officially establish an alliance,” HRP Pre­sident Kem Sokha told reporters at a news conference.

“People want us to form an al­liance and merge into one party, which means in the next election we will register to have one party. HRP supports this request. This request is for change in order to compete with the CPP,” he said.

Responding on behalf of the Sam Rainsy Party, SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua said her party agreed with the HRP proposal, but it would now require the official blessing of party president Sam Rainsy, who is currently in France.

“When the president, Sam Rain­sy, returns we will work toward establishing the alliance. This is the political will of the people,” Mu Sochua told reporters, adding that now was the time to join forces.

“This is an important time [to es­tab­lish the alliance],” he said. “The CPP is using its 90 seats to cause difficulty for the people. This al­liance is a new choice for the people. This is a new choice following the 30-year-old choice,” she said in reference to decades of CPP rule.

Ahead of the national election in July, observers criticized both the SRP and HRP for failing to form an alliance to jointly contest the vote, which in the end returned the largest ever CPP majority in the Assembly, and saw the once highly popular political opposition make tepid gains.

Kem Sokha said the parties did not align as there were internal op­­ponents to such a merger. Those opponents of joining forces have since left the parties, he said.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the alliance was no threat to his party.

“The CPP doesn’t have any time to be afraid of the alliance,” he said.

“It is up to the people’s beliefs and the parties’ platforms,” he said, denying accusations that the ruling party is bullying small parties that have less than 10 seats by not allowing them to speak in parliamentary debates.

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