Authorities have backed down from their threat to remove an awning recently affixed to the CNRP’s Phnom Penh headquarters, instead asking the opposition party to submit a retroactive construction request that will be reviewed by Meanchey district officials.
On June 14, district governor Pech Keo Mony wrote to the CNRP demanding that it remove the blue metal awning within a week because it extended over a public sidewalk. In fact, the awning is located well inside the party’s property.
Supporters have been keeping vigil outside the building to protect deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha, who has been holed up inside since police attempted to arrest him on May 26.
Deputy district governor Ma Sopheap said authorities met with CNRP lawmaker Ho Vann on Wednesday afternoon and agreed to let the awning stay where it is, with Mr. Vann promising to submit a construction request to ensure that it is safe.
“We need them to follow the law because if the awning falls and injures people, then they will blame us for not inspecting it before it was built,” Mr. Sopheap said.
He said that “experts” would visit the headquarters once Mr. Vann submitted the request.
Opposition officials referred questions to party spokesman Yem Ponhearith, who could not be reached.
The CNRP has also been collecting thumb-printed documents in support of a second petition to King Norodom Sihamoni calling for him to bring an end to the government’s repression of the opposition. The CNRP’s first petition, bearing 170,000 thumbprints, is being investigated by the government for fraud, and the party has not said when it will deliver the second one.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the investigation into the petition—which he says has numerous duplicate thumbprints, including one that appeared 86 times—would be finished by the end of the month.
“On June 30, the Interior Ministry will collect all irregularities in the thumbprints to send to the government to consider; police will take action or call people for questioning,” he said.