Opposition CNRP president Sam Rainsy visited Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on Thursday to call on his supporters to join a mass demonstration for peace and justice set for Saturday.
Mr. Rainsy first stopped by Stung Meanchey commune market before heading to the commune pagoda, which is near the site of a riot that took place during the July 28 national election day when voters, disgruntled over voter list irregularities, threw rocks and set two military police vehicles on fire.
Addressing his supporters, Mr. Rainsy emphasized the need for a peaceful and nonviolent demonstration on Saturday.
“This mass demonstration is nonviolent, peaceful and dignified,” Mr. Rainsy said through a megaphone to more than 100 supporters and monks gathered at the pagoda. “Our stance will be firm and we will demand justice for Cambodian citizens.”
“[If there is no resolution], we will continue to stage demonstrations until we completely receive justice,” he said.
Both the CNRP and the ruling CPP claim to have won the July 28 election.
While the National Election Committee is almost sure to confirm on Sunday its preliminary results giving Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP a victory, the CNRP is hoping its demonstrations will pressure the government into agreeing to an independent investigation of the vote.
After an ominous warning from the government that demonstrations may turn violent, the CNRP has focused on peaceful protest methods, holding two training exercises this week to train its supporters on how to react to confrontations with police.
CNRP supporters at the pagoda promised that Saturday’s demonstration would not be violent, but also appeared determined to see a change in government.
“I will not be afraid to take part in this mass demonstration,” said Phean Vuthy, 42, a motorcycle-taxi driver. “The current government sells everything—land, river and forests.”
While the government has given permission to the CNRP to demonstrate on Saturday, Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said that the opposition party should restrict attendance to 10,000 people, and that the rally can only be held at Freedom Park from 7 a.m. to noon.
“The important thing that is up to [Mr. Rainsy] is to control the number of people,” Lt. Gen. Sopheak said. “We will implement the law to protect the security of demonstrators if [the CNRP] holds the demonstration based on the law.”