SRP, HRP Brokering New Alliance in Assembly

The opposition Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties are ap­proaching an agreement by which they would form an alliance within the National Assembly and ultimately push toward a merger ahead of the next election, officials from both parties said Monday.

SRP Deputy Secretary-General Mu Sochua said that the two parties have been in negotiations to form an official opposition bloc in the Assembly.

“We are discussing to…have a joint strategy to have an official opposition alliance in the near future,” she said. “This would be the first time that there has been an opposition alliance inside the Assembly.”

Mu Sochua said the parties are seeking to unite in the legislature because the internal regulations of the Assembly forbid any group with fewer than 10 lawmakers to speak. As a result, the HRP, which has three lawmakers, would not get a voice unless part of a larger coalition.

HRP Secretary-General Yem Ponhearith said that a party working group is set to meet after the Pchum Ben holiday to continue discussing the alliance plan.

“We want to have a joint alliance op­position party inside the As­sem­bly,” he said, adding that the two parties were already looking ahead to the 2013 national election.

“The goal is to merge the two parties—the HRP and SRP are discussing, but we have not reached a decision yet,” he said.

“We have a joint goal to win the 2013 election,” added Mu Sochua. “We must have a joint opposition party; if we split, we split the vote.”

Attempts at an opposition coalition ahead of the July 27 election found little traction, a failure on the part of the opposition that perhaps contributed to the CPP’s dominance at the polls.

Mu Sochua added that following Pchum Ben, the Assembly would re­convene to amend its internal reg­ulations. Following the first meeting of the new Assembly on Sept 24, Prime Minister Hun Sen said he had agreed to present proposed changes to the internal regulations that would “recognize the role of the opposition,” but did not elaborate as to what those amendments would be.

Mu Sochua claimed that following these amendments, the opposition would be able to assume control over two of the Assembly’s nine commissions.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, who chairs the Assembly’s finance commission, said Monday there are no immediate plans to amend the internal regulations, but that, when they do, it will only result in opposition lawmakers receiving extra funding to conduct duties.

He added that the CPP would retain possession of all commission chairmanships or deputy chairmanships because the Assembly already voted on these positions.

“We can wait until the next mandate,” he said.

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