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Human Rights Party Wary of Royalist Coalition, For Now

Human Rights Party president Kem Sokha addresses journalists on Monday, saying he has no intention yet of joining a coalition with the revived Norodom Ranariddh Party.

The Human Rights Party said Monday it would not join the Norodom Ranarridh Party, which has seen the return of its leader and the prospects of a royalist coalition.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who returned to his party this week, said at a party congress on Saturday he was seeking a partnership with Funcinpec, the only other party to hold administrative seats in the government alongside the ruling Cambodian People's Party. He also said he would seek cooperation with the Human Rights Party.

In a statement to the media on Monday, Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, said he had not met with the prince, nor would he consider joining a coalition for the time being.

Kem Sokha said Norodom Ranarridh had not yet clearly defined the stance of his party and whether it was a “democratic” or “communist” party. Whether his party would join in a partnership depends on that platform, he said.

“The Human Rights Party always welcomes democratic parties, and the parties that are considering the country's interests and the people's interests,” he said.

Pen Sangha, a spokesman for the Norodom Ranariddh Party, which offiially changed its name back from the Nationalist Party on Saturday, said Kem Sokha and the prince had met with each other in the past to discuss a potential partnership. At the time, Kem Sokha had agreed in principle to join if the prince returned to politics, he said.

Norodom Ranariddh, the main political rival of Prime Minister Hun Sen throughout the 1990s, has remained out of politics since 2008, when he was granted a royal pardon for embezzlement charges against him and returned from exile abroad.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said on Saturday the return of Norodom Ranariddh to politics should necessitate his resignation as a royal adviser to his brother, King Norodom Sihamoni, a post he has held since his return.