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)