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Kampucheaniyum, Khmer National United Party merge ahead of election

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The Kampucheaniyum Party Yem Ponharith (left) and KNUP president Nhek Bun Chhay hold a press conference on October 10. Heng Chivoan

Kampucheaniyum, Khmer National United Party merge ahead of election

The Kampucheaniyum Party (KP) has elected to merge with the Khmer National United Party (KNUP) for next year’s general election, after their leaders met on October 10.

KP leader Yem Ponharith said he supported the merger as he admired the heroism of KNUP president Nhek Bun Chhay.

He added that Bun Chhay had fought for Cambodia his whole political life, and was one of the people responsible for bringing the October 23, 1991 Paris Peace Agreements to the Kingdom.

“The merger between my pro-democracy party and that of one of the men who has struggled the hardest for the Kingdom is a natural fit,” he said.

In a statement, KP said the merger would bring together students, intellectuals, youth, advocates for the nation and pro-democracy activists. The parties’ goals are to build a foundation of democracy, freedom, human rights and respect for the rule of law. This would create a fair, advanced and dignified society in the interests of the Cambodian people.

The two parties laid out a seven-point principle, and announced that they would contest the 2023 election under the KNUP banner, as there is not enough time to develop a new brand for the party. Following next year’s ballot, a re-branding would take place.

Bun Chhay would remain as leader, while Ponharith had yet to state his role.

“We believe we have created a new political position – democratic centralism,” said Bun Chhay, adding that it had captured the attention of several other parties.

“We are communicating with certain parties and politicians, but have not reached any agreements yet,” he said.

Bun Chhay hoped other parties would seek to align themselves with KNUP.

Following the June 5 commune council elections, there have been several alliances and mergers announced, one of which was between the Khmer Will Party and Candlelight, the country’s second-largest party.

The Cambodia Reform Party has been discussing blending with the Cambodian Nationality Party, while the Grassroots Democratic Party reportedly remains hesitant to merge.

Political Analysts are of the view that the mergers are strategic decisions, designed to maximise the chances of competing with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

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