Sam Rainsy Welcomes Merger by Opposition

SRP President Sam Rainsy said Tuesday, on returning to Phnom Penh from a 10-day trip to the US, that he welcomes the idea of an opposition party merger.

While Sam Rainsy was away, HRP President Kem Sokha held a news conference where he renewed his call for a merger of the HRP with the SRP and the NRP.

At a news conference held outside the VIP room at Phnom Penh International Airport, Sam Rainsy endorsed a merger between all opposition parties, of which he said there are 56.

“I call for the 56 parties to merge,” he said.

“There are 56 parties that really want change. If they think the ruling party is very good, they will support CPP and wouldn’t need to establish their own party,” he said, adding he wanted to officially align opposition parties against the CPP.

“I want to make sure that all those parties are real opposition parties. They might be the CPP puppet,” he said.

Kem Sokha said Tuesday that he welcomes Sam Rainsy’s enthusiasm toward a merger, but doubts his sincerity. Sam Rainsy has mentioned mergers in the past and not followed through, he said.

“I don’t believe that Sam Rainsy really wants to merge,” he said, adding that the opposition parties would have a better chance of winning if they merged.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said by telephone Tuesday that the CPP is not afraid of a merger between opposition parties, of which he said there are only 45.

“We are the strong one, and we have a good structure in the provinces preparing for the election on July 27,” he said.

NRP spokesman Muth Chan­ntha could not be reached Tuesday.

Sam Rainsy also announced that he would not apologize for comments he made recently implicating senior government officials—whom he declined to name—with the Khmer Rouge regime.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Sin Bunthoeun said last week that a lawsuit by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong against Sam Rainsy might be dropped if the SRP president apologized.

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