Funcinpec party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh earlier this week returned to the Kingdom amidst reports his party will soon merge with the Khmer National United Party in order to create a stronger, unified party.
Funcinpec has been losing influence since the 1998 election, when it won 43 parliamentary seats. In 2003 it won 26 seats and then just two in 2008. It won no seats in 2013 and in last year’s general election.
In 2015, senior Funcinpec official Nhek Bun Chhay split from the party and created the KNUP, which went on to become the only party to win a commune chief post in the 2017 commune elections.
Prince Ranariddh was in Thailand seeking medical treatment since June last year after a taxi collided with his BMW.
Party vice president Yim Savy yesterday said he has yet to meet Prince Ranariddh since his return this week.
“Other party officials and I will meet him soon, but we haven’t scheduled it,” he said.
While Prince Ranariddh was recovering from the accident, senior Funcinpec and KNUP officials hinted at a merger under the banner of royalism.
“Normally, we need to be honest with each other about internal disputes,” Mr Savy said. “Funcinpec has become weak because of internal disputes.”
“Splitting does not benefit anyone – it’s the opposite in fact. It makes people lose hope,” he added.
KNUP spokesman Run Meatra said a merger is something that has always been considered by high-ranking officials in his party, adding that party officials are ready to meet with Prince Ranariddh.
“We think that merging brings us solidarity and agreement,” Mr Meatra said. “We want to epitomise the achievements of the late King Norodom Sihanouk.”