The opposition CNRP is pushing ahead with plans to host a rally at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on Sunday while City Hall officials say that only 10,000 people will be allowed to attend, a party spokesman said Friday.
Although many people have left Phnom Penh to return to their home provinces for the Pchum Ben holiday, opposition spokesman Yim Sovann said he expects a significant number of people to attend.
“We are proceeding with plans,” he said. “We expect about 10,000 people to participate in the rally. We are proceeding even if there are differences between the CNRP and City Hall.”
On Monday, the CNRP wrote to City Hall outlining its intentions for the event and claiming that it expected 20,000 supporters to be present. On Tuesday, opposition party representatives and municipal officials met to discuss the scope of the rally, resulting in City Hall giving permission for a maximum of 10,000 people to attend.
Mr. Sovann said the rally, which was originally billed as a “congress,” would start at 3 p.m. and would be led by CNRP president Sam Rainsy and his deputy, Kem Sokha.
“This is not a party congress,” he said. “We used that word in the announcement to inform the municipality that it’s a public meeting. We will collect ideas and opinions from voters.”
Mr. Sovann said the party intends to keep its promise that there will be no street marches.
The rally comes two weeks after the ruling CPP took its 68 seats in the National Assembly. The CNRP’s 55 lawmakers are boycotting the Assembly until their demand for an independent investigation into alleged electoral irregularities are met.
Lieutenant General Kirth Chantharith, spokesman for the National Police, said that security measures would be put in place for Sunday’s rally.
“We have enough forces to intervene and help facilitate the people,” Lt. Gen. Chantharith said. “We have enough forces to guarantee safety and security.”
Following the CNRP rally at Freedom Park last month, one man was killed and several others injured by security force gunfire after stone-throwing broke out when authorities prevented protesters and commuters from crossing Phnom Penh’s Monivong Bridge at night causing serious traffic congestion.
(Additional reporting by Khy Sovuthy)