Rainsy Says Protests to Resume in May During Council Elections

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Monday that the CNRP will resume mass demonstrations against the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 2.

The opposition will use the official campaign period for May 18 district, city and provincial council elections to circumvent a government ban on public gatherings.

Mr. Hun Sen’s government has not allowed gatherings in Phnom Penh since early January.

Mr. Rainsy, who on Sunday led a small and unannounced march from central Phnom Penh to CNRP headquarters in Meanchey district, said that the party would take advantage of the upcoming campaign period to resume demonstrations.

“We are organizing big demonstrations in early May. It will be the official campaign for the district and provincial elections,” he said.

“Officially there will be two weeks of an official campaign, so there will be no reason for the CPP to ban it, even though the government has very restrictive rules on demonstrations.”

The opposition leader said the CNRP will take part in Labor Day marches on May 1 with garment factory workers before starting demonstrations the next day.

“From May 2 to May 17, we will organize big demonstrations every day not only in Phnom Penh but throughout the country,” he said. “We are preparing for it now.”

On May 18, commune councilors will vote in new councils for each district in the country, as well as for the municipality of Phnom Penh and the 24 provinces, including the newly created Tbong Khmum province.

“They [the CPP] want to show they are democratic in Cambodia and in order to do that, they have to allow campaigns,” Mr. Rainsy said.

“I can tell you that, yes, campaigns are free. We have never received restrictions during election campaigns.”

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