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Cambodia's minor parties hope to find strength in numbers

Ahead of the Kingdom’s local elections in June, former military commander Nhek Bun Chhay, head of the newly minted  Khmer National United Party, has called for a coalition against both major parties

Former military commander and founder of the royalist Khmer National United Party Nhek Bun Chhay. The Khmer National United Party recently announced a merger with the Cambodia National Justice Party. Photo: Sam Jam

What advantages do you hope to gain from the merger ahead of Cambodia’s upcoming local elections?

The more voice and power we have, the better, because we need to work together for our people. We only merge with those who have the same goals as us, which is to serve the country and the people instead of their own self or party interests.

If the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) were to be dissolved, which remains a possibility through the amended Political Parties Law, what would this mean for politics in Cambodia?

The Political Parties Law is not specifically for the CNRP, it’s for all the political parties in Cambodia, big ones or small ones. All parties are under the law. National as well as international opinion saying this was meant for the CNRP is because they don’t trust our courts – they question their legitimacy. But if we look at it, the law helps stabilise the political scene in Cambodia. It makes the political parties here more cautious about their words and actions.

What impact have the recent public phone leaks from both major parties had on their credibility?

You can’t use that to judge the parties. The phone calls are a personal matter. Other countries don’t use this method to attack other opposing parties because it’s a private matter. They listen to it, but they won’t use it to attack the parties. But I don’t know why Cambodia does that.

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