CNRP Protest Enters Second Day With Motorcycle Rally

The second day of the CNRP’s daily protests to demand a new election ended Monday afternoon with a motorcycle rally through Phnom Penh led by opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha.

A few hundred CNRP supporters had milled about Freedom Park dancing to live music and eating snacks throughout the afternoon, but the park began to fill with people in the lead-up to Mr. Rainsy and Mr. Sokha’s arrival at 5 p.m.

Eng Chhay Eang, the vice chairman of the CNRP’s executive committee, fired up supporters before the arrival of the two leaders with a speech claiming that government authorities were afraid of the opposition protesters.

“The military police and police have been stationed to protect some main ministries and institutions because they are afraid we will surround them,” Mr. Chhay Eang said, explaining that the party did not yet have plans to do so.

“We will go and surround these institutions and ministries one day, when we do not get a response from them,” he said.

Mr. Rainsy and Mr. Sokha arrived on stage with motorcycle helmets in their hands, with the deputy CNRP leader delivering a brief speech reiterating the party’s demands for Prime Minister Hun Sen to stand down from his position or call a new election in early 2014.

He then passed the microphone to Mr. Rainsy.

“Sometimes we meet with people, and they say they want us to march by walking, but today we have decided to ‘motorbike march’ with you. So those who have motorbikes and want to drive, let’s go!” Mr. Rainsy said.

The rally took off along Street 108 and moved toward Norodom Boulevard, where Mr. Rainsy and Mr. Sokha were lifted onto the back pegs of two black motorcycles and—supported by security guards—stood up to lead the slow-moving rally toward Phsar Chas.

Turning right on Street 13, the motorcade began to speed up as it passed Phsar Kandal and turned onto Street 154. Those on foot began running to keep up with the leaders, who had since removed their helmets and were speeding away toward Street 63.

Chanting “Hun Sen, stand down!” the marchers also passed Sorya Shopping Mall and Central Market before returning to Freedom Park at 5:45 p.m.

For the second day running, military police and riot police were not seen on the streets.

National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said that authorities had kept away from the rally because the protesters were not breaking any laws by marching through the streets.

“That demand is their right, and to demonstrate is their right. That is government and political business, while the authorities are just for keeping order,” Brigadier General Tito said.

In the CNRP’s first round of protests in September after the disputed July 28 election, military police and riot police shut down the streets of Phnom Penh and fired live ammunition at stone-throwing youths that killed a 29-year-old bystander.

Back at Freedom Park following the motorized rally Monday, Mr. Rainsy and Mr. Sokha waited about 10 minutes for protesters to fill back into the now empty space in front of the stage before rising to speak.

“Yesterday we marched. Today we drove motorcycles. What will we do tomorrow?” Mr. Sokha asked.

“Tomorrow we will meet again, we will discuss our progress, and then we will march through a variety of different means: by walking, by standing on each other’s shoulders, on cow carts or horse carts, and by tuk-tuk, but the message we send will be: ‘Hun Sen, stand down!’” Mr. Rainsy said.

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