Pen Sovann, a former prime minister of Cambodia during the communist People’s Republic of Kampuchea, said on Monday that he has scrapped his plan to merge his fringe National Sustaining Party with the Sam Rainsy Party.
Pen Sovann, who claims his party has 200,000 supporters but has no seats in the National Assembly, said he axed the plan because the SRP has abandoned its ideals.
“I have observed that the Sam Rainsy Party has fallen into Funcinpec’s failed legacy,” Pen Sovann said by telephone.
Sam Rainsy’s apology to Prime Minister Hun Sen regarding the 1997 grenade attack and the party’s more muted stance on border encroachment by Vietnam prompted the decision, Pen Sovann said.
SRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang said that he was not concerned, as Pen Sovann’s party did not have any supporters anyway.
“There are no actual supporters,” Eng Chhay Eang claimed. “If he had that many supporters, he would get seats at the National Assembly.”
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that the merger between the two very different parties could have damaged both and led to a mutual loss of votes.
Pen Sovann was fired as the prime minister of the Hanoi-backed Phnom Penh regime in 1981 and imprisoned in Vietnam for 10 years. Historians maintain he was arrested for criticizing the Vietnamese army’s continued presence in Cambodia.