SRP Plans ‘Massive Demonstration’ Next Week

SRP President Sam Rainsy an­nounced that his party will hold a “massive demonstration” in Phnom Penh next Sunday to pro­test what he said was the government’s lack of attention to inflation.

Speaking during a ceremony Sunday marking the anniversary of the 1997 grenade attack on a peaceful demonstration he led, Sam Rainsy blamed the recent hikes in prices for items such as rice and fuel on government corruption and incompetence.

“We will organize a massive demonstration. I appeal to all people who are the victims of the country’s corrupt management, which has led to inflation, to participate in the demonstration,” he said, adding that he expected thousands to turn out.

Sam Rainsy said he would in­form the authorities of his intentions, but added that he did not need to get permission.

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kan­harith said by telephone Sunday that the government is working to increase wages for workers and civil servants to alleviate the pressure placed on them by inflation.

Khieu Kanharith added that higher prices were, however, proving a boon to farmers, and that the SRP would alienate farmers already angry over recent government measures meant to lower rice and pork prices.

“The farmers and pig raisers are not happy with the recent ban and they also want to hold demonstrations,” he said. Last week, the government banned the export of rice and lifted a ban on imported pork.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong said that the SRP by law must seek permission from the municipality before holding a demonstration.

“If [the SRP] demonstrates without permission we will make arrests,” he said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak also said that the SRP needed permission, adding that he doesn’t believe Sam Rainsy will hold the protest if the authorities forbid it.

“I do not believe that Sam Rainsy would make an outlaw of himself,” he said. “The CPP also wants the prices to come down.”

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