Urging a united political front to challenge Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP in the July 27, general elections, Princess Norodom Vacheara—the half-sister of King Norodom Sihanouk—called on Thursday for Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party to set aside their difference and join forces in coalition.
Princess Vacheara, known for her outspokenness as a royalist parliamentarian, said democrats in all parties should cooperate for the best interests of Cambodia, or be resigned to continue living under a “dictatorship.”
“I would like to announce that our country is facing serious dangers again. The only means to avoid danger is cooperation. I would like to appeal to all believers in democracy to cooperate in forming a political movement,” the princess said in a statement sent from Paris.
“Each party should keep its identity in cooperating and forming a single will to win election victory and ensure the return of democracy,” she said.
Only a coalition agreement can prevent continued one-party rule in Cambodia, said the princess, who was careful not to directly name the CPP or Hun Sen.
The princess departed for Paris in February following a high-profile dispute with Hun Sen, who began legal proceedings against her but dropped the case after the princess apologized.
Hun Sen claimed he was defamed by the princess after she alleged that the prime minister had threatened to throw her in prison and had belittled the throne.
The princess departed shortly after the killing of Funcinpec adviser Om Radsady, a killing that many royalist officials believe was a political killing.
“I want all the democratic parties to unite in one community to challenge the dictatorship. If we don’t unite we will lose and we make the dictator stronger and justice will be lost,” Vacheara said by telephone on Thursday.
“I appeal to all royalists and non-royalists who believe in democracy to join together as a force to bring down the dictatorship. If we are still divided [politics will regress] 20 years,” she said.
The princess also called for an end to the inter-party feud between Sam Rainsy and Prince Norodom Ranariddh that has seen a wave of defections between both parties in recent months.
Sam Rainsy appealed earlier this year for democrats from all parties, including the CPP, to put the interests of the nation first and join together in the forthcoming election. However, the opposition leader’s offer excluded Hun Sen.
Both Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh have also ruled out the possibility of a coalition with Sam Rainsy.
The CPP and Funcinpec are expected to remain partners following the July polls.
Ok Socheat, a Funcinpec parliamentarian, said on Thursday he supported the call for coalition between parties to challenge the CPP.
However, Funcinpec was currently in the process of attracting opposition party officials to defect to the royalist party, and therefore a coalition with Sam Rainsy was not necessary, Ok Socheat said.
Princess Vacheara is expected to return to Cambodia on Sunday.