Sam Rainsy Denies F’pec Merger Is Imminent

Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party are not looking to merge at the royalists’ annual congress in March, but the issue will be raised next month in expectation of a future union, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said.

Sam Rainsy said Wednesday some news outlets had reported incorrectly that he had an­nounced the two parties, now partnered as the Alliance of Dem­ocrats, would unite formally in March.

He said that, when he last met with Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh in Paris, they discussed merging their parties and the prince promised to raise the idea at an Alliance meeting.

But Sam Rainsy said that motion simply would be to “prepare the ground for eventual merger later.”

Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou said Wednesday the union of the two parties is set to be discussed at a Tuesday meeting of the Alliance’s board of directors, over which Prince Ranariddh will preside. “We have two houses, so we must move the two houses into one house,” Kassie Neou said. “We will merge when it is ap­propriate.”

Sam Rainsy said such a merger could occur as late as 2007, be­fore Funcinpec and the Sam Rain­sy Party run as one in the 2008 na­tional elections, or perhaps in 2006 before the commune elections.

There are details related to the Constitution to be considered be­fore such a move can be decided upon, Sam Rainsy said.

For example, both parties must be assured that they will retain the parliamentary strength they won in last year’s elections.

“There is no way we will run the risk of losing our seats,” Sam Rainsy said.

But he said the Alliance is looking forward to further integrating itself, particularly in regard to grass-roots activism. Plans to produce signs with an Alliance logo and the names of the two parties are under way, he said.

Sam Rainsy dismissed potential de­fections that a merger could provoke as insignificant. All previous turncoats have “politically disappeared,” he said.

High-ranking officials in the Al­liance who are considered potential defectors are “isolated elements, nonrepresentative and con­demned at the grass-roots level,” Sam Rainsy said.

Prince Ranariddh has voiced suspicion that some Funcinpec ministers may be less than loyal.

“Some elements at the top level are disconnected from the ground level because they are motivated by personal considerations,” he said.

Prince Ranariddh has voiced suspicion that some Funcinpec ministers may be less than loyal.


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