siem reap town – Cambodians here expressed confidence that this week’s talks between the three main political parties would resolve the post-election deadlock—until, that is, Thursday morning’s explosion near a parliamentary motorcade dimmed those prospects considerably.
“Before the attack, I hoped the situation would be better, but now that I heard about the explosion, I am very disappointed.” said Kon Phal, a vendor at Angkor Wat. “This is bad for Cambodia’s image and a bad sign for the environment of the negotiations.”
She said an end to the tension between the parties would bring back peace, happiness and tourists.
Many of those interviewed were hearing about the roadside explosion for the first time. They called it a serious blow to peace. Others were reluctant to speak about their feelings. “I am too scared to express an idea on the case,” said one woman.
Pheng Phay, a driver, was pessimistic. He said he doubted that the political situation would improve. “I am without hope because the attack was too close to the site of negotiations,” he said. “Such an event should not happen at this time.”
He had an equally strong opinion against the government’s crackdown on protesters. “The [opposition] demand [for recounts and the change of the allocation formula] is fair,” he said. “The winner will still be the winner.”
But Leung Chon, a 63-year-old monk, was optimistic even when he heard about the explosion. “This incident will not disrupt the effort of the King in trying to help mediate the conflict,” he said. “Everyone loves peace and the situation will improve.”
A solution to the conflict is also considered a necessary first step toward drawing more tourists to the historical sites of Angkor.
“People’s lives in Siem Reap depend on tourism,” said Chan Na, a hotel owner. “There’s not enough water to grow rice. Our only hope is the tourists.”
Vendor Kon Phal agreed: “I want them [the political parties] to get along with each other, and afterwards there will be a lot of tourists, and I will make good business.”
Whatever locals thought about Thursday’s attack, most said that the presence of King Norodom Sihanouk as a mediator at the talks made them feel more confident. Said Kon Phal: “I want him to stay here longer. He seems like a symbol of stability.”
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