Foreign Embassies Are Prepared in Case of Election Unrest

Embassy officials said Monday they have informed their citizens of possible election-related unrest, and have contingency plans in case of protests on or after Sunday’s vote, though the political situation in Cambodia at this time remains stable.

Officials from the Australian, British and U.S. embassies in Phnom Penh said they have plans in place to warn their citizens in Cambodia if unrest were to break out.

The British Embassy’s online travel advisory program informs its citizens to avoid campaign rallies.

“You are advised to avoid political rallies, marches or other gatherings where there is potential for clashes between rival groups,” the website states, referring to a July 5 incident when several shots were fired into the air after a fight broke out during a Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) rally in Phnom Penh. A National Military Police colonel who is a CPP supporter was charged over the shooting.

Early Saturday morning, a gunman fired a single shot into a glass door at the CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district, but no one was injured.

Sean McIntosh, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, said the embassy has sent notifications to U.S. citizens currently in or traveling to Cambodia about the upcoming election and has requested that they enroll in its safe traveler program.

“The embassy reminds U.S. citizens in Cambodia to review their personal security and preparedness plans, remain alert to local security developments, and be vigilant regarding their personal security. They are encouraged to monitor local news reports and plan their activities accordingly, including avoiding large demonstrations and other gatherings,” he said.

When asked if the embassy is worried about election unrest, Mr. McIntosh said: “We encourage a peaceful process.”

The Australian Embassy has taken similar precautions, according to an embassy spokesman, and has informed citizens to avoid specific locations—mostly in Phnom Penh.

“You should avoid public gatherings or demonstrations, particularly near political party offices, the National Assembly building, the prime minister’s residence (by the Independence Monument), the Phnom Penh Municipal Government Office and other government and military buildings or compounds,” an embassy spokesman said.

But while embassies are taking steps to protect their citizens, the CPP expects only peace, according to Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan.

“I don’t think [there will be unrest] because resilience has been built,” Mr. Siphan said.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said he would reserve comment until after Sunday’s election results.

“We will have to wait until Sunday. We will observe this situation very closely,” he said.

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