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The CPP began its celebrations of the 27th anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge on Friday, while the ultra-nationalist Khmer Front Party said it had been denied permission to demonstrate against the occasion in Phnom Penh.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An led a rally of 10,000 people in Ta­keo provincial town Friday, Provincial Governor Sou Phirin said. The official anniversary of the rebels’ fall is Saturday.

In Sisophon, the captial of Ban­teay Meanchey province, about 5,000 people gathered to listen to a speech by Funcinpec Provincial Gov­ernor Heng Chantha, officials said. Cash and food donations were distributed to members of the public later at CPP provincial headquarters.

The Khmer Front Party had plan­­­ned to protest on Saturday outside the National Assembly against what it calls the start of the Viet­namese occupation.

But the party has postponed the rally indefinitely after being denied permission by the Phnom Penh Mu­­nicipality, party secretary-general Mao Sam Oeurn said.

“The authorities do not allow us to gather and they said they al­ready prepared to crack down on our peaceful protest,” he said.

Suon Rindy, deputy municipal cabinet chief, said he was too busy to speak to a reporter.

Sam Rainsy Acting President Kong Korm, who served the Viet­namese-backed People’s Republic of Kampuchea as foreign minister during the 1980s, issued a statement decrying the government’s celebration.

He said the government should not celebrate the liberation from the Khmer Rouge at a time when government critics are being ar­res­ted.

“With the suppression and crack­downs on the freedom of expression…the [anniversary] comes at an unpleasant turning point that undermines the image of Cambodia,” he wrote.


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