The troubled Norodom Rana-riddh Party on Monday signed the “royalist cooperation” agreement with its former rival Funcinpec to join forces ahead of the May provincial and district council elections.
Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay called the agreement an emergency action taken to “unify forces” between the two parties’ elected commune councilors, which will vote to select the provincial and district councilors.
The announcement comes on the heels of an ongoing battle for control within the NRP between party loyalists and members of the newly re-formed Khmer Front Party. The NRP was formed in late 2006 when the Khmer Front Party allowed itself to be renamed after Prince Norodom Ranariddh. KFP loyalists now claim that they legally control the party.
Nhiek Bun Chhay, who led the charge to oust his Prince Rana-riddh from the Funcinpec presidency in 2006, said Monday after the signing ceremony that he regretted the fracture in the royalist movement that led to the NRP’s creation.
“There are regrets, too. In the previous election in 2008, Funcin-pec party won two [parliamentary seats], Norodom Ranariddh Party got two, but with the voices of the two parties adding up together, we would have had 17 seats—not two each,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said after Funcinpec President Keo Puth Ras-mey and NRP acting President Chhim Seak Leng signed the al-liance agreement.
Nhiek Bun Chhay predicted that the agreement would help Funcin-pec win some 13 provincial councilor seats—up from the three it could secure on its own—and more than 105 district councilors—up from 35.
NRP lawmaker You Hockry predicted at the ceremony that the NRP would win more than eight provincial councilor positions and 70 district councilor spots under the new agreement. He added the par-ty would only win seven provincial councilor positions and 54 district councilor positions without the agreement.
Koul Panha, director of election-monitoring NGO Comfrel, said Monday by telephone that with the NRP mostly made up of former Funcincpec members, the alliance might be successful.
“They’re from one source…there are benefits,” he said, but added that the NRP will have to solve its internal problems for the agreement to work.