Members of Prince Sisowath Thomico’s Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party have joined the Norodom Ranariddh Party in an effort to unite royalists ahead of the 2008 national elections, party officials announced Thursday.
“Today is a victory, we unify the royalist forces,” Prince Thomico said during a press conference at the SJFP offices in Phnom Penh.
Prince Thomico added that the fortified NRP hopes to attract more parties to form one massive opposition party to challenge the CPP next year.
“We need to unify for victory in the next election. First, royalists come together, and then we must unify all democrats,” he said.
Ok Socheat, public affairs adviser for Prince Norodom Ranariddh, said that the merger will help reunite divided royalists and their supporters. “The more united we stand, the stronger we are to win over the Cambodian People’s Party. [Royalists] became divided, that’s why we got weaker,” he said.
Ok Socheat predicted that many Funcinpec members will cross over to the NRP before next year’s election.
Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said that Funcinpec will not merge with the NRP. “They are not reliable,” he said of the other royalist parties.
SRP Secretary-General Mu Sochua said the SRP welcomes the merger. “We will work together,” she added.
CPP Minister of Information and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment, but CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said that he too welcomed the royalist merger.
“It is the right of each party to join [together]. The CPP welcomes such a move as long as they don’t affect us,” he added.