Sar Kheng Asks CNRP to Confine Rallies to Freedom Park

Interior Minister Sar Kheng wrote to CNRP president Sam Rainsy on Wednesday, asking that any potential opposition demonstrations be confined to Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park.

Mr. Kheng, who has been ap­pointed to the position of President of the Permanent Security Command Committee for the Elections—a newly established government body designed to ensure stability in the country after Sunday’s vote—said he hoped Mr. Rainsy would cooperate.

“I acknowledge that any demands related to the process of the management of the elections is the right of the political parties,” Mr. Kheng said, “but [we] request to His Excellency to comply with the law, especially the peaceful demonstration law.

“In a necessary case, the gathering of people must be done at Freedom Park,” he added.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said he did not understand why Mr. Kheng decided to write the letter, and appealed to the party’s supporters to remain calm as a party investigation into the irregularities is performed.

“We have the right to gather at Freedom Park, but we also have the right to march in case of need. For example, if we need to gather in front of the [National Election Committee], we have to do that.

“I don’t know what he means. What we are doing so far is fo­cusing on the investigation of irregularities. I appeal to supporters to stay calm.”

Since the election wrapped up on Sunday, the government has de­ploy­ed military police around Phnom Penh and major roads have been periodically barricaded around Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house.

Kem Ley, a political analyst and researcher for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said he believes the best way forward for both sides is around a table and not in the streets.

“The demonstrations are not the best way for Cambodia now,” he said. “The CNRP should find another strategy like discussing with the NEC to join the investigation on political and technical errors.”

“Even though they have the demonstration law, it is impossible if the majority of the people dislike the government,” he said. “In Phnom Penh there are nearly 2 million people and if 1 million voted for the CNRP, how do they put pressure on the people [to stay in one place]?” he added.

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