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Royal Parties To Oppose CPP in Local Elections

Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party announced Wednesday the formation of an alliance to compete with the ruling Cambodian People's Party in provincial and district elections scheduled to be held in the coming year.

Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bunchhay said party officials had met to establish a commission "to discuss the strategic formula for helping each other in the 2009 nationwide election."

Funcinpec remains a partner with the CPP, with some of its members holding seats in government, but the CPP dominated all other parties in this year's national election, winning 90 of 123 National Assembly seats. Funcinpec and the NRP won four seats each, compared to 26 for the Sam Rainsy Party and three for the Human Rights Party.

Party officials said Wednesday they were confident an alliance would bolster their political support in the provinces. Both Funcinpec and the NRP traditionally draw support from royalist bases.

"If we add the members of the commune councils from the two parties,we will win more than 10 provinces and municipalities, and more districts," said NRP spokesman Suth Dina. The two parties would cooperate with each other by seeking to transfer voters where one party might be weaker than the other, he said.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yiep said the alliance would not affect the CPP,"but we must all do our best to win the election."

Hang Puthea, director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections, called the alliance "a good sign" for the parties"for attracting the support of voters."

Party officials on both sides declined to speculate on futurecooperation, with the next parliamentary election scheduled for 2013.