ABC Radio Owner Calls Off Mass Rally at Olympic Stadium

Phnom Penh City Hall has asked the owner of a popular radio station to delay a mass rally in support of King Norodom Sihamoni’s call for the opposition CNRP to attend this morning’s opening session of the National Assembly, asking him to wait until the government is officially formed.

In a live broadcast Sunday morning, Seng Bunveng, who owns the ABC FM radio station and goes by the pseudonym “Aja A,” cited a letter from City Hall stating that municipal officials had called off Tuesday’s rally, which was to include a fundraising “humanitarian concert” for the Kantha Bopha children’s hospitals.

“I wish to inform the director-general [Mr. Bunveng] that, recently, the King, the government and the Ministry of Interior have appealed to all people to keep calm in order to provide security, social stability as well as to create a good atmosphere for the first session of the National Assembly for the fifth mandate,” the statement, which was dated Saturday and signed by Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong, says.

Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said Mr. Bunveng could hold his mass rally once the new government is formed.

“We will allow ABC Radio to hold the concert ceremony after the National Assembly and government are officially formed,” he said.

ABC FM Radio representative Roeun Sinart claimed City Hall had made its request that Mr. Bunveng delay the rally at Olympic Stadium due to plans by the CNRP to hold a competing demonstration the same day.

“My director-general told us that the concert is delayed because he is worried violence could occur, because opposition leaders had threatened to hold a demonstration on the same day,” she said.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann denied his party has any plans to hold a demonstration on Tuesday, and reiterated that he supported ABC’s rights to hold a rally.

“They do have the right to organize peaceful demonstration-it is the right of the people—and we do not plan to hold a demonstration on the 24th,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Alex Willemyns)

© 2013, All rights reserved.