Police To Keep Watchful Eye on Student Protest

Police on Monday said they will be manning the streets today in anticipation of a student protest against surging gasoline prices, which organizers have vowed to hold despite a municipal or­der forbidding demonstrations.

Police are not preparing for a fight, but will be ready if anything happens, Municipal Penal Police Chief Reach Sokhon said.

“This morning, I was ordered to prepare my police force to mon­itor the situation in Phnom Penh,” he said Monday.

He declined to say how many police would be on patrol.

“If something happens, I will take orders directly from [Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuk­tema],” Hy Prou, deputy municipal police chief for security added.

The Students’ Movement for Democracy expects about 1,000 supporters, including local residents, motorbike and automobile taxi drivers, to protest in front of the National Assembly, the movement’s president, Nouhem Prum Virak, said Monday. “If the police crack down on us, or use violence on us, we will complain to the Municipal Court and send complaints later to the UN,” he said.

Demonstrations have been outlawed in Phnom Penh since the Jan. 29, 2003 anti-Thai riots.

The demonstrators are de­mand­ing that the government lower the price of gasoline to $0.38 per liter. Gas prices hovered around $0.70 per liter in Phnom Penh Monday.

Daun Penh district Governor Suon Rindy met with the students Friday and gave them with a letter, signed by Phnom Penh Gov­ern­or Kep Chuktema, rejecting their demonstration.

“The Municipality thinks that the government is fixing the problem already,” the letter read.

“The demonstration would allow opportunistic [people] to pro­voke chaotic disorder and destroy private and public property,” it read.

Heng Vantha, Phnom Penh municipal vice-cabinet chief, said he had nothing to add to the governor’s letter banning the protest.

“Everything goes according to the governor,” he said Monday.

 

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