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Cambodian Political Parties Consolidate into Two Main Alliances

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia touted its achievements in democracy during the July elections, often citing the participation of 18 parties on the ballot. Today, 13 of those parties officially joined with the Cambodian People’s Party to form an alliance in contrast to the announcement of four opposition parties joining together to consolidate power.

Former Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is President of the CPP, welcomed the support of the 13 parties and said that their alliance would protect the peace of Cambodia so it can develop even further.

In a voice message on the afternoon of October 11, the former PM said, "The CPP enjoys working with other parties, respecting the independence of all parties and considers all parties as partners with the CPP.”

He claims that the CPP does not consider the CPP to be a major party, despite its control over the executive and legislative branches, and stressed that the other political parties without parliamentary seats deserve to be partners with the CPP.

"As far as I know, the Royal Government is ready to accept 30 parties to participate in the Advisory Council. In this sense, the CPP is ready to accept all partners who want to join the CPP under the image of alliance, cooperation, equality and equal rights,” he said.

The advisory Supreme Consultative Council was established by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2018, after the CPP swept the election and won all 125 seats in the National Assembly, in addition to all seats in the Senate. He said the SCC was established to give a voice to Cambodia’s other parties, however the council has faced criticism from social observers who say it is purely performative.

CPP leadership assistants drafted an agreement, signed by 13 other parties, promising cooperation and further commitments to an alliance.

"We really need the unity of political parties in Cambodia to achieve the goal of maintaining peace, to ensure long-term development, to work together to protect the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Cambodia, to protect the monarchy, to defend the Constitution, to protect liberal democracy, pluralism, the protection of human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and other matters entrusted to us by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia," he said.

He added, "We also have an obligation to get rid of extremist politics in the Kingdom of Cambodia to ensure unity, national unity, peace to ensure long-term development."

Earlier that same day, the Candlelight Party, who was barred from July’s election, joined together with three other parties to strengthen opposition to the CPP, which has held power since the end of the Khmer Rouge regime. The four parties called the agreement “the Alliance for the Future.” Royalist party FUNCINPEC has not released a statement and currently holds the 5 seats in the 125-seat National Assembly that the CPP does not hold.

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