Thousands are threatening to demonstrate in Poipet commune on Friday, urging the Ministry of Interior to remove their renegade commune chief, opposition party member and protest representative Mean Sarith said Wednesday.
Commune councilors have already been on strike for more than a month to demand commune chief Sok Sovann’s removal, saying he uses insulting language toward his co-workers.
Last year, Sok Sovann was forced out of the Sam Rainsy Party and swore loyalty to Funcinpec.
Mean Sarith said if a commune chief is fired from a political party, the Ministry of Interior by law must remove him within 14 days.
If the ministry does not remove Sok Sovann by Friday, a demonstration will be held, Mean Sarith said, adding that banners are prepared and a bevy of car tires is ready to be burned in front of the commune office.
Sok Sovann on Wednesday said the upcoming demonstration was illegal and accused Sam Rainsy supporters of trying to usurp his position. “Sam Rainsy members want to dilute Funcinpec’s popularity in Poipet along with my popularity,” he said.
The number of demonstrators has been exaggerated, he said, promising to voluntarily step down if 3,000 people actually turn out to protest. He said he wanted to organize a counterprotest, but Funcinpec will not let him.
Leng Vy, director of the Interior Ministry’s Department of Administration, said that Deputy Prime Minister and co-Interior Minister Sar Kheng has already approved the commune chief’s removal. Everyone is waiting for Co-Minister of Interior You Hokry, who always says he is too busy to sign the paperwork, said Leng Vy.
You Hokry declined to comment Wednesday. O’Chrou District Governor Sar Chamrong said the Interior Ministry told him not to approve the demonstration.
“We don’t care,” Mean Sarith said. “We will hold the demonstration without permission from the district.”