Sam Rainsy Party, Funcinpec To Debate Merger

As Sam Rainsy Party and Fun­cin­­pec officials consider the planned merger of their two parties, vastly differing ideas are em­er­­ging over how they might do it.

Members from both parties were preparing a letter Thursday, ask­ing the Constitutional Council about the legality of their prop­osed merger, Sam Rainsy Party officials said.

Keo Remy said some have suggested a new party could bear a variation of Funcinpec’s logo; instead of Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s face in the middle, Sam Rainsy Party’s trademark candle could replace it.

Opposition party senator Ou Bun­­long raised two potential names for the party: “The Alliance of Democrats,” which the parties have been using to refer to their coalition, or “The Alliance of Cambo­dian Democ­rats.”

Some in Funcinpec, however, do not agree that a new party should be formed, said Deputy Sec­retary-General Ok Socheat.

Many want Funcinpec to keep its name, he said, adding that op­po­­sition party members should join the royalist fold. “Fun­cin­pec is the historical name,” he said.

Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou, meanwhile, said the merger proposal was still in its early stag­es. “We don’t know when will be the opportune time” for the parties to officially join, he said.

Kassie Neou said plans for a mer­ger will not likely be the top is­­sue at Funcinpec’s party con­ven­tion, which has historically  been scheduled each year for March 20 and March 21.

The party’s officials on Thurs­day evening were still discussing how it will hold its convention, he said. “We are concerned about the cost,” he said, adding that a turn­out of 20,000 party members could cost up to $150,000.“That is something quite steep for us for the time being,” he said. “We spent a lot of money during the election.”

Prince Ranariddh is expected to re­turn to Cambodia Saturday from Eu­rope, Kassie Neou said. But whether the prince will meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen remains to be seen.

“There is no appointment with Hun Sen yet,” Kassie Neou said.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Thursday the Alliance has already agreed to allow the CPP to form a government before King Noro­dom Sihanouk’s scheduled return to Cambodia in April.

Hun Sen’s adviser Om Yen­tieng, however, said Thurs­day: “We know Sam Rainsy very well…. We don’t believe him.”

“We want to form the bilateral government” with Funcinpec, he said.

(Additional reporting by Wency Leung)

 

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