Gov’t: Coalition Is Not Allowed To Protest

The government will stop the Cambodia Watchdog Council, a coalition of unions sympathetic to the opposition party, from protesting election results to prevent a repeat of the violence that oc­curred after the 1998 election, Min­istry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Tuesday.

The government will not grant Watchdog Council members permission to demonstrate and will use dogs, tear gas and rubber ba­tons to thwart any unlawful pro­tests, Khieu Sopheak said.

“They want to topple the government that was selected by the election, like [citizens] did in the Philippines and Indonesia,” Khieu Sopheak said. “In order to learn from the bad experience in 1998, the government will not al­low any demonstration to support or protest” the election.

Hundreds of students, monks and Sam Rainsy Party and Fun­cin­pec activists clashed with po­lice during the September 1998 election protests. At least 30 people were left dead or missing and more than 100 were wounded.

Khieu Sopheak said he doubted the Watchdog Council has the force to provoke a mass demonstration equal to the 1998 pro­tests.

The coalition of workers, teachers, students and farmers unions has called for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s resignation and prom­ised anti-government demonstrations in the past but has never tak­en to the streets. Threats made by the pro-CPP Pagoda’s Children Intelligentsia and Stud­ents’ Association, known as the Pagoda Boys, have consistently stifled the Council’s calls for anti-government protests.

Representatives of the Front of Khmer Students and Intellect­uals, the Free Trade Union of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Student Movement for Demo­cracy—all Council members—on Tuesday strengthened their pledge to dem­onstrate despite receiving word that the Pagoda Boys would stop demonstrations undermining national security.

Front of Khmer Students and Intellectuals President Men Nath also said Council affiliates would take to the streets even if the Con­stitutional Council upholds Nat­ional Election Committee claims of a CPP victory.


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