Opposition Confirms Plans for Weekly Rallies

CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha confirmed Thursday that the opposition party is moving forward with its plans to hold the first of what will become weekly demonstrations in Phnom Penh and around the country on Sunday.

The party on Tuesday held marches in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap City, with CNRP President Sam Rainsy flying to the western province in the afternoon to lead the first rally outside the capital since July’s election.

Mr. Sokha said that after the success of the Siem Reap rally, which saw about 15,000 opposition supporters turn out, the CNRP will return to Freedom Park in Phnom Penh this Sunday and then will later look to expand the rallies beyond the city.

“We’ll hold the rallies every Sunday, and we’ll do it in Phnom Penh or in the provinces alternatively,” he said.

Mr. Sokha said CNRP leaders would meet today to discuss their specific plans for the recurring Sunday rallies.

Mr. Rainsy first announced on November 24 that the party would begin holding anti-government rallies outside Phnom Penh, which has so far seen three major rounds of demonstrations and marches that have drawn up to 25,000 people.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said he hoped Sunday’s event in the city would draw similar numbers.

“We expect about 20,000 people. It will start at 7 a.m. and, I think, run the whole day,” Mr. Sovann said.

Municipal spokesman Long Dimanche said that City Hall had hosted a meeting with the CNRP on Thursday during which authorities had agreed to allow a rally of only 10,000 people.

“We are still at odds,” Mr. Dimanche said.

“They asked for 20,000 to 30,000 or more. They also asked if they can march on the main boulevards such as Monivong and Mao Tse Toung, but then they will block the roads.”

National military police spokesman Brigadier General Kheng Tito said that military police officers would continue to keep order wherever protests are held in coming months—no matter the cost of constant deployments and redeployments.

However, Brig. Gen. Tito said, that the numbers of officers deployed would be dictated by the attitude of CNRP leaders.

“It depends on whether they cooperate well…[but] if they protest, authorities will be busy,” he said.

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