Protest Threatened Over Local Poipet Official

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.”

 

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