Capital Quiet as Voters Return From Provinces

As Cambodia came to terms with election results showing big losses for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Monday, businesses and markets across the capital stayed shut, though officials said the lull in commercial activity was not because people were fearful of unrest.

As polls shut on Sunday, some of the city’s residents queued to take money out of ATMs and drivers rushed to petrol stations to fill up their cars as violence broke out between an angry mob and police officers in the south of the city.

“I had also received information about the shops and markets being closed. No, it’s not because they are afraid. I think that people have not yet returned home from voting,” said Ket Chhe, chief of cabinet for the Phnom Penh Municipality.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan also said the city was quiet because many people in the capital had gone back to the provinces to vote. “I don’t think people are scared about violence. The shops and markets are still closed because people have not returned home from voting. If they were to open today and people are still in the province, who would they sell to if there are no people?” he said.

Along the city’s main roads including Monivong, Mao Tse Tung, Norodom and Sisowath on Monday morning, traffic was minimal, while hundreds of shops remained shut.

“We are still closed because some of our staff have not returned from the provinces yet. They live far in Battambang and Siem Reap. Maybe we’ll open tomorrow,” said Sok Sreylen, manager at Samsung’s Moni­vong Boulevard service center.

Farther down the boulevard, the large Ausino furniture store was shut with a sign in Khmer that read, “The company will open after three days.”

At Central Market, about half of the stalls were closed with only a few Western shoppers. “Before, there were many people, but today, it’s very quiet,” said one vendor.

Farther south, O’Russei Market was completely shuttered. Food vendors around the market said it had been closed since Saturday.

“The workers inside have not returned yet. I am open because my workers live near the city. So they voted and returned,” said Chan Mey, 28, who sells cooked pigs.

At Kandal Market, about a quarter of the stalls were closed.

“I’m open today because I need business. I’m not worried about any violence,” said Ung Srey, 36, a shoe vendor.

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