City Hall: SRP Inflation Rally May Not March

Municipal authorities in Phnom Penh told the SRP Thursday that its anti-inflation rally planned for Sunday must be held at a single location and may not march because of security concerns.

Finance Minister Keat Chhon also said the government could do no more to depress the high price of gasoline, as the government was already paying out hefty subsidies to stabilize prices.

SRP leader Sam Rainsy on Sunday announced plans for a “massive demonstration” against the rising price of goods, which the party says is in part because of mismanagement and corruption.

The party has announced plans for about 5,000 people to march from Phsar Thmei to the former National Assembly premises.

Deputy Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong said the city was asking that the rally be held at a single location as authorities feared violence could erupt.

Pa Socheatvong also said that in a meeting Thursday with SRP lawmaker Ho Vann, he had warned that those who march without permission will face arrest.

“The SRP’s intention is to make political gains,” he said.

Market vendors throughout the city plan to close their stalls Sunday as they fear violence, he added.

Contacted by phone, Ho Vann said the SRP still plans to march.

“There has been no positive result,” he said of the party’s attempt to get permission for the demonstration.

“Pa Socheatvong said demonstrators should not march because city hall will not allow a march because it is getting close to the Khmer New Year. There will be traffic jams or it could turn violent,” Ho Vann said.

“I told him the party had already agreed to march.”

NRP spokesman Muth Chan­ntha said Thursday his party had no intention of joining the SRP rally as it feared for marchers’ safety and violent suppression by police.

Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said enough police would be on hand Sunday to prevent an unauthorized march.

“I have already prepared our police officers to protect secur­ity…and to prevent demonstration without permission,” he said.

Speaking at the National As­sembly on Thursday, Finance Minister Keat Chhon said the government was already doing all it can to prevent the price of gasoline from rising.

“We cannot reduce the price. There have been demands since many years ago,” he said, adding that the government had paid out $180 million in gasoline subsidies in 2007 and $42 million for the first two months of this year.

 

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