There was a whiff of Las Vegas about Koh Pich Theater on Friday night as a fired-up crowd gathered for One Fighting Championship’s much-hyped “Rise of the Kingdom,” an international cage-fighting event with a world championship title match on the card and a host of Cambodian fighters out to prove they can compete in the brutal arena of mixed martial arts.
Interior Minister Sar Kheng has chastised the opposition CNRP for holding its demonstration in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park last week for longer than authorized, and blamed the party for the deadly violence that took place near Monivong Bridge.
A 29-year-old construction worker was shot dead while sitting on his motorcycle near clashes that erupted between security forces and protestors in the area around the bridge.
“The CNRP violated the law on peaceful demonstrations and an agreement made with City Hall by staging protests for three days and nights and marched in different places outside of Freedom Park, which strongly affected Phnom Penh’s order and public security until a destructive act occurred, destroying state and private properties, opposing police forces who were on duty,” Mr. Kheng said in a statement released Sunday.
Blaming “a few bad-minded people” for the clashes that saw the construction worker killed and others seriously injured, Mr. Kheng adds that authorities should act to widely disseminate the statement’s account to counter possible disinformation.
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche confirmed that Phnom Penh Municipality had received the letter and would act in accordance with Mr. Kheng’s requests to disseminate the statement.
“We have always worked closely with the ministry, and we will not be reluctant to implement the order now that we’ve received it,” he said, adding that security measures were already being put in place for this morning’s first sitting of the National Assembly.
Kompong Thom provincial Governor Uch Sam On said he had also received the letter and would follow its instructions.
“We have disseminated this letter to the local authorities and to the people to make them aware of this issue,” he said, adding that he would nevertheless not prevent anyone from going to Phnom Penh for future opposition demonstrations.
“We will not prevent the people from going to the demonstration, but we want them to know how to deal with the problems they will face [if clashes break out],” he said.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann denied the party’s supporters had damaged any property. “It’s not true because we staged the demonstration peacefully,” he said. “We didn’t destroy any property.”
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