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Royalists Join to Gain Council Seats

Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party signed an agreement Monday pledging joint cooperation in local elections set for May.

The declaration between the two royalist parties comes amid internal strife for the Norodom Ranariddh Party, as two factions vied for control of the party over the weekend and 18 people were fired.

The agreement with Funcinpec President Keo Puthreaksmey was signed by NRP President Chhim Seakleng.

“Unity and cooperation between the two parties is very interesting for our two parties in the May election, and the cooperation will increase the [council] seats of the two parties,” Keo Puthreaksmey told reporters Monday.

The two parties vowed to set up a joint working group to prepare cooperation in structure and strategy to add votes from commune council members for decentralized district and provincial councils, as well as a Phnom Penh council.

“We strongly believe that cooperation will go smoothly toward the May election,” Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bunchhay said.

By joining support, the parties will have more sway over the May elections because they can combine commune council votes.

If the parties did not join for the election, he said, Funcinpec would only win three council seats in the provinces and only 35 in the districts. But by joining, the two together would win 13 provincial seats and 105 district seats.

“We can gather the votes from commune councils,” said NRP Secretary-General You Hokry said.

The announcement comes after a major shake-up within the NRP over the weekend, when 18 members were fired for insulting the party’s founder, Prince Norodom Ranariddh. The prince, meanwhile, has asked the party to no longer use his name or image. You Hokry said Monday the internal problems were resolved following the law.