Prince Sisowath Thomico announced Tuesday that his fledgling Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party has been officially recognized by the Interior Ministry and that he plans to install the first-ever party logo at its central office in Tuol Kok district on Saturday.
“This is the birthday of the party, it is a historical day,” Prince Thomico said, adding that the party has begun recruiting party activists in 10 municipalities and provinces.
The Ministry of Interior has given permission to the SJF to officially run as a political party, according to a letter signed by Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Monday.
The ministry previously said it could not register the party due to a lack of information about its political platform and the location of its offices. SJF officials had said they had tried to register the party since July, and accused officials of political sabotage.
Lay Voharith, director of the ministry’s department of political affairs, said his department now recognizes the party and that it can start its political activities as soon as Sar Kheng signs the paperwork.
“There are no further mistakes [Prince Thomico] has corrected it already,” Lay Voharith said.
SJF spokesman Suth Dina said the the ministry’s delay has affected the party.
“If there was no delay we would have members in all provinces across the country,” he said, adding that the CPP is unlikely to ever let the party operate freely.
Minister of Information and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the CPP has nothing to fear from Prince Thomico’s party, but that Funcinpec should worry about losing votes to it.
Chea Chanboribo, spokesman for Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, said Funcinpec is not afraid of the SJF.
“A lot of people support Prince Norodom Ranariddh and not many even know who Prince Sisowath Thomico is,” he said.
Sam Rainsy, leader of the Sam Rainsy Party, said he wished Prince Thomico luck.
“It is a good thing that people with political ideas have the right and the possibility to form a party and let the people choose,” he said.
(Additional reporting by James Welsh)