Parties Dispute Details of Rejected Merger Offer

A proposed merger between Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s party and the Sam Rainsy Party would have involved the formation of a new, single party to contest the 2008 national election, SRP officials have revealed.

Prince Ranariddh has appealed for a union between the SRP and the NRP since October, and officials from the two parties have met to discuss the issue. SRP officials, however, said Sunday that no such alliance will take place.

Leading Khmer-language newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea Daily reported Sunday that Sam Rainsy said in France that the plan proposed by the NRP called for a single party headed by Prince Ranariddh with Sam Rainsy serving as the deputy president. Sam Rainsy would be the party’s prime minister candidate and the prince would have run as a candidate for the Na­tional Assembly.

“This was the prince’s request,” SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said Sunday.

“We did not accept the prince’s request,” he added.

NRP spokesman Muth Chann­tha denied that Prince Ranariddh had made such a proposal, and claimed that Sam Rainsy was showing the extent of his ego by refusing to share authority in the event of a merger between the two parties.

“This shows his political ambitions—the union must allow him to have complete power,” he said.

Revelation of the proposed merger comes just days after Prime Min­ister Hun Sen apparently chastised Prince Ranariddh for comments his party had made about the Cambo­dian judiciary.

With the prince currently in exile to avoid a jail sentence stemming from a breach of trust case, the NRP has on several occasions questioned the ability of the courts to hear their leader’s appeal in a fair and impartial manner.

“Someone has accused the court of not being independent and under political influence,” Hun Sen said Thursday, adding that he had documents proving that the politician in question had asked for the appointment of certain prosecutors and judges.

“When he lost his position, he now claims that the court is not independent. Please be careful that I don’t disseminate the documents,” Hun Sen said.

Muth Channtha responded by calling on the prime minister to reveal his documents.

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