NRP Spokesman Says Party Hopes To Join Ruling Coalition

A spokesman for the Norodom Ranariddh Party—which won two seats in the July 27 election—declared Monday that the royalist party was hoping to join the ruling CPP and Funcinpec in the upcoming government.

The NRP hopes to form a tripartite coalition with the CPP and Fun­cinpec as part of an effort to return the exiled Prince Ranariddh to the country, the party’s Deputy Secretary-General and newly appointed spokesman Suth Dina said Monday.

Since the party shed its ties with the SRP and HRP more than two weeks ago, the NRP has said that its number one priority is to secure a pardon for the prince, who faces an 18-month prison sentence, but this marks the first time that the NRP has specifically stated that they hope to formally join forces with the ruling CPP.

“We can work to join with the government,” Suth Dina said. “If the prince is granted amnesty, I do hope there is a possibility to join with the government; I am optimistic that we can join.”

One possible change being made to help secure admission to the government is the naming of Suth Dina as the new party spokesman in place of NRP Cabinet Director Muth Channtha. Suth Dina said Muth Channtha, who could not be reached for comment Monday, has retained his cabinet chief post.

Muth Channtha has been a vocal critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen, offering some of the most strongly worded rebukes of the prime minister and the CPP over the last year, and therefore no longer an ideal commentator for a party looking to link up with the government.

“[Muth Channtha] did not make any mistakes,” Suth Dina said. “The party has chosen to respond to the current situation. After the election, the result was not satisfactory, so we must re­form. There will be additional reshuffling,” he added.

In recent weeks, Muth Channtha appeared to be increasingly out of the loop, particularly when he was caught unaware of Prince Rana­riddh’s Aug 12 decision to distance the party from the opposition and accept the election results.

CPP lawmaker-elect and party standing committee member Cheam Yeap said Monday that the ruling party would consider taking the NRP on board, but that it would require a meeting of the CPP central committee.

“Personally, I think it would be good [to take on the NRP], but first we will have to amend the [CPP] party platform,” which calls for just one coalition partner—Funcinpec, Cheam Yeap said.

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