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Hope Opposition Unity Likely Finished: Experts

As party registration for July’s elections approaches, political observers say the likelihood of the competing parties to join in an opposition is unlikely.

The failure of unity has caused much finger-pointing among the parties, who will now have to run separately against the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and its coalition partner, Funcinpec.

“We are too late to accept a coalition,” said Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Muth Chantha. Those who said it was not too late were going to confuse the public, he said.

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha expressed “sadness” over the failure, but said he would welcome a coalition. He blamed a failure of unity on the absence of Prince Ranariddh, who is running his party from exile in Malaysia and faces an 18-month prison sentence for embezzling if he returns.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, fresh back from a trip to the US in search of support, said he was ready to unite with the NRP or HRP, but he would not spend time discussing coalitions with newer parties or those with no political base.

Cambodia’s competing parties have in the past sought unity through coalitions, especially after general elections, but they have always failed.

Independent social analyst Chea Vannath said the recent failure was another good experience for the three parties to consider how they might work together in the next elections.