A number of political parties that were formed after the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and had participated in the June 5 commune council elections said they were willing to consider uniting into a new coalition political party to compete in the upcoming national election next year.
Ou Chanrath, founder of the Cambodia Reform Party (CRP), told The Post that he and three representatives from other parties which were founded by former CNRP members had already begun a first-step discussion about the establishment of a committee in the near future to further discuss the potential for unification in an in-depth manner.
The committee will discuss the possibility of their parties uniting under one banner and they agreed that they must do so with all due haste in order to hold a party congress in September 2022 and be on time and ready to fully participate in the 2023 general election.
“Recently, I talked to the Kampucheaniyum Party, Khmer Will Party and Cambodian Nation Love Party. Therefore, this week it has been decided in principle to set up a committee to discuss the creation of a joint party,” he said.
Chanrath said he expects that unification will eventually take place because all of the party leaders have shown the same discipline and the same goals and all of them especially want to have a new political tent pole for the opposition people to gather under for the general election in 2023.
One potential sticking point: the group has yet to decide whether to form a new political party or choose an existing one to move their membership into.
Kong Koam, honorary president of the Khmer Will Party, told The Post that the idea to unite the parties that originated from members of the former CNRP in order to form a new party had been discussed since before the commune council election, but the discussion period was too short to come to any conclusions or act upon it.
“We just had the idea of having a new option for the people. So how comprehensive and effective it will be, we cannot yet predict,” he said President of the Kampucheaniyum Party Yem Ponhearith told The Post that his party as well as three other political parties had been considering uniting into one party.
“The party that will be formed must agree on a policy that adheres to the principles of realism, collectivism and moderation. But if we want this plan to be in place for the next election then we have to push faster on it because time is short,” he said.
The Post could not reach Kheuy Sinoeun, vice-president of Cambodian Nation Love Party, for comment on June 14.
Em Sovannara, a political analyst, told The Post that he supported the move because it was a starting point for the parties that are fielding candidates that are outside of government to gain some ground and while they aren’t yet ready to challenge the CPP, they could become an important force for change.
“If those parties are united with the Candlelight Party, it would be even bigger and stronger. Almost like the former CNRP, which could face down and compete with the CPP,” he said. “It’s a good starting point. Having so many small parties makes Cambodian democracy look strong to outsiders, but in reality if all of those parties united with the Candlelight Party then they would not just look strong, they would actually be strong.”
Sok Eysan, spokesman of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), told The Post on June 13 that the CPP is not worried about this merger because all of those parties already lost individually in the commune council election.
“The [former CNRP] is like broken glass. You can try to fix it but once it’s broken it will never be the same again,” Eysan said. “They are still going to lose either way, so the CPP has nothing to worry about. Let me do the math on that for you – one loser, plus another loser, equals two losers.”