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GDP urges opposition unity ahead of national election

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Representatives of four political parties hold a joint press conference on July 11. Hong Menea

GDP urges opposition unity ahead of national election

The Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) has urged other political parties to discuss forming an alliance by October in order to contest next year’s parliamentary elections.

Discussions would be based on four foundations – intentions, values, principles and a platform of strong cooperation.

GDP spokesman Loek Sothea said on July 19 that if the opposition parties do not take the time to form a political alliance, it will slow down their other work and make it more and more difficult to field candidates in the upcoming election.

He added that those parties who shared similar intentions would have to reach an agreement soon.

“So far, six political parties – the GDP, the Candlelight Party (CP), the Khmer Will Party, the Kampucheaniyum Party and the Cambodian Reform Party (CRP) – appear to have the same political intentions. We understand each other and will endeavour to form an alliance as soon as possible,” he said.

“We have held preliminary discussions with these five parties. Although we are still considering possibilities and which exact choices to make, we all recognise that only if we are united can we gain the support of the people. If we are not united, we will garner fewer votes,” he added.

CRP founder Ou Chanrath said on July 19 that discussions had focused on cooperation. The parties had held a joint conference asking for a revision to the makeup of the National Election Committee (NEC) and had continued to discuss strategies to unite in the contestation of the 2023 parliamentary elections.

“The CRP will do its utmost to embrace this union because we have gone through many difficulties. Mathematically, this cooperation is the right thing to do. If we are not united, smaller parties will field candidates everywhere and we will only succeed in splitting the opposition vote,” he said.

CP vice-president Son Chhay said his party was yet to think too deeply about the union as it was focused on preparing the election structures at the commune, district, capital and province level.

“Before we consider joining this alliance, the party leaders must gather to talk about the matter. So far, we have not done so. We have heard no details of this agreement,” he said.

Sam Sokuntheamy, director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said that if the alliance was going to be formed then it had best happen soon. The further ahead of the elections they were prepared, the more effectively they could contest it.

“Union is better than division. If they form an alliance, it will grow rather than separating them from each other,” he said.

Sok Eysan, spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said that the CPP was not worried about those parties forming an alliance because they had all won less votes than his party and lost the commune elections.

“Even if they form a political alliance, they will still continue to lose. We have no worries about that,” he said.

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