Prince Norodom Ranariddh announced his opposition to the formation of a single royalist party on Monday, claiming the Nationalist Party that he formed but no longer leads should remain separate from the traditional Funcinpec.
“A combination would make us lose the voice of supporters and the name and honor of the party,” he said in a statement.
Norodom Ranariddh's statement comes after a Constitutional Council announcement Aug. 4 claiming that any party that merges with another will be removed from the Ministry of Interior's list of political organizations.
Funcinpec and the Nationalist Party have been working for reconciliation, announcing in June they would form an alliance to help move voters back toward the royalist parties following a poor showing in 2008's national polls.
Funcinpec was the leading political party when Cambodia emerged from decades of war, garnering 58 of 120 National Assembly seats in the UN-backed election of 1993. But the party was divided when Norodom Ranariddh left in 2006 under allegations of corruption.
The parties competed against each other in the 2008 election, winning only two seats each. Officials from each party maintained on Monday they would be working together.
“We explained to the prince this morning that the combination will not lead to the loss of the party, as the agreement ensures the sovereignty and identity of each party,” said Pen Sang Ha, spokesman for the Nationalist Party.
Funcinpec President Keo Put Reaksmey said the parties had up until six months ahead of the election to combine. The two parties have already been organizing on a grass roots level in the provinces of Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom.
“We will make a common list of candidates for the commune elections in 2012,” he said.
The statement was one of the prince's first steps into a political issue since 2008, when he left the National Party, which was then named after Norodom Ranariddh, and was made a senior adviser to King Norodom Sihamoni.
The prince's cabinet chief, Norannaridh Anandayath, said Monday the statement was “not an intervention in politics.”