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Opposition Merger Making Waves, Analysts Say

Prime Minister Hun Sen has compared news of the merger to “a storm in a bottle.”

Kem Sokha, left, leader of Human Rights Party sitting alongside with Sam Rainsy, leader of Sam Rainsy Party, in Manila last month. Kem Sokha, left, leader of Human Rights Party sitting alongside with Sam Rainsy, leader of Sam Rainsy Party, in Manila last month.
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Kem Sokha, left, leader of Human Rights Party sitting alongside with Sam Rainsy, leader of Sam Rainsy Party, in Manila last month.
Kem Sokha, left, leader of Human Rights Party sitting alongside with Sam Rainsy, leader of Sam Rainsy Party, in Manila last month.

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  • The Unification of Opposition Parties and National Election in 2013 (in Khmer)

Sok KhemaraVOA Khmer
WASHINGTON DC - The merger of Cambodia’s two main opposition parties is likely to cause some concern for the ruling party, as it attracts attention to the nation’s politics, analysts said Monday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has compared news of the merger to “a storm in a bottle,” but Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said the mention of a merger by Hun Sen shows he is watching closely.

“Although he has not said he is impressed or worried about the unification, it shows that the Cambodian People’s Party is paying attention to the unification process,” he said.

Lao Monghay, an independent political analyst, said the merger is likely to attract more votes among the populace, which is bound to get the ruling party’s attention.

By some estimates, some 60 percent of eligible voters do not support the ruling party, Ou Virak said. That leaves a lot of votes up for grabs in the national election scheduled for July next year, he said.

And the merger comes at a time of increasing unhappiness among many people who have not found justice in the court system and have instead taken to the streets in protest, he said.

A proper election is a good place for people to air their grievances, he said, rather than major political upheaval such as the Arab Spring, most recently, or in the Philippines or Indonesia not long ago.

A reformed National Election Committee, widely derided as politically biased toward the ruling party, would bring more confidence from the people, he said.

“And in my view, the ruling party has the power to win the election in 2013 properly with an independent NEC,” he said. “And it can win if the CPP reforms some policies, the judicial system, and others to help the CPP to win fairly, but it depends on the government too.”
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Yearlong Political Deadlock Endsi
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22 July 2014
Cambodia’s political deadlock has ended. For nearly a year, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has refused to join the government, calling for electoral reforms in a system it says was deeply flawed. Following nearly five hours of meetings between top opposition officials and Prime Minister Hun Sen, that deadlock has ended. The two sides finally reached agreement on a formula for selecting the National Election Committee, which the Rescue Party has said was biased toward the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Hun Sen and Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy emerged from talks Tuesday smiling and shaking hands. “Victory,” Hun Sen told reporters after the meeting. “You can all applaud.” (Heng Reaksmey, Phnom Penh)

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