Gov’t Attempting To Obstruct Meeting, Claims Party

The Sangkum Cheat Niyum Front Party claimed Wednesday that the government is trying to ob­struct it from holding a public gathering in Phnom Penh  Friday.

Spokesman Suth Dina said the par­ty has been requesting permission to hold a public gathering since Aug 30, but the municipality has not replied.

The party sent a representative to sub­­mit yet another request to the mu­n­ic­ipality Wednesday morning, but City Hall refused to accept it and said it would reply to the original re­quest later in the day. On Wednes­day evening, Suth Dina said he had still not heard from City Hall.

“The government doesn’t want our party to hold the meeting be­cause they are thinking that the new party will challenge the government’s power,” he said. The party has invited 2,000 people in­cluding 40 foreign diplomats, NGOs and representatives from the three main political parties to attend the gath­ering on the grass-covered traffic island opposite Funcinpec’s headquarters near the Japanese Bridge, he said.

“We are keeping our plan to use the park,” he said, at least until he hears from City Hall.

In August, the Ministry of Culture re­fused to rent the Chaktomuk Theater to the party established by Prince Sisowath Thomico, Suth Dina said. Prince Thomico said the de­lay is po­litically motivated. “The de­lay is clear­ly involved with politics. Cam­­bodian democracy is limited,” he said.

Officials in Russei Keo district also prevented supporters from handing out invitations to the meeting, he added.

Phnom Penh Municipal Gov­ernor Kep Chuktema refused to com­­ment and deputy City Hall cabinet chief Suon Rindy said he was un­aware of the request to hold the pub­lic meeting. Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak re­ferred questions to City Hall.

Sam Rainsy said he identified with Prince Thomico and the problems his party is facing. “It re­minds me of the beginnings of the SRP. I have gone through all the same problems as Prince Thom­ico,” he said. “It is political,” he added. “It is a pretext to slow down the creation of something that could be anti-Hun Sen.”

(Additional reporting by James Welsh)



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