Muth Chantha, secretary-general of the Nationalism Party, which started its life as the Norodom Ranariddh Party, officially announced Monday that his party’s intention to dissolve itself into the opposition CNRP.
Speaking at a ceremony at the Phnom Penh headquarters of the CNRP for the one-year anniversary of the party’s first congress, Mr. Chantha said his party would maintain an official presence on paper only to keep the commune councilors it won in the 2012 elections.
“We have called on our members from the 24 provinces and cities and announced that our Nationalism Party needs to join with the similarly democratic party,” Mr. Chantha explained. “Our members will vote for the CNRP, and we are in the process of…setting the date for a merger.”
The Nationalism Party is the remnants of the Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP). Prince Norodom Ranariddh formed the party in November 2006 as a splinter to the Funcinpec Party, which he had led to victory in the 1993 election.
Prince Ranariddh was later ousted from the party and then accepted back in, leading the party to dissolve itself into Funcinpec in 2012.
Some members of the old NRP, disaffected by Funcinpec’s two-decade-long relationship with the ruling CPP, revived their party in January this year under the “Nationalism Party” name it had used between 2008 and 2010.
Last month, Prince Ranariddh launched a Community of Royalist People Party, saying he feared the rise of the CNRP and doubted its commitment to the monarchy.
Sam Rainsy, president of the CNRP who served as finance minister for Funcinpec in the government between 1993 and 1994, said he was glad that the united opposition party was receiving more members.
The CNRP was formed in July 2012 as a merger of the Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party and held its first congress in April 2013.
“Today we are very happy since we have seen the forces of patriotism and democracy from everywhere and every tendency join to strengthen the CNRP and to unite forces of patriotism and democracy,” Mr. Rainsy said.
In a relative vacuum of policy statements from the CNRP, Mr. Chantha of the Nationalism Party has in recent months released policy commentaries criticizing the ruling CPP’s anti-corruption efforts and management of U.S.-funded National Road 4.
© 2014, Simon Henderson. All rights reserved.