Thousands of Security Forces To Be Used for Assembly Opening

Thousands of police and soldiers will be deployed for a massive security operation to guard over the in­auguration of the new National As­sembly building on Saturday, officials said.

Nguon Nhel, the CPP’s First Dep­uty President of the National Assembly, said on Friday that the ministries of Interior and Defense, the Phnom Penh Municipality and the Kandal Provincial Authority are all providing personnel to guard the VIPs on hand for the ceremony.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, who heads the Assembly commission organizing the move to the new building, said that a security sub-committee headed by National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy and Defense Ministry Secretary of State General Neang Phat will provide over 4,000 police and troops.

“We are sure of our ability to provide safety during the event,” he said.

The inauguration ceremony is set to kick off at 7 am Saturday—the seventh day of the seventh month of 2007—with 7,777 guests invited to attend.

Nguon Nhel said that attendees to the ceremony will include King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Mini­ster Hun Sen, members of both houses of parliament, and more than 200 diplomats and foreign politicians.

Many of the streets east of the Independence Monument in the vicinity of the Assembly building will be closed to traffic, and boats will patrol the Tonle Bassac River behind the building, Nguon Nhel said.

“We have enough guards to protect all our valuable guests,” he said.

Municipal police chief Touch Naruth said police and security guards have already been put in place in anticipation of the inauguration.

Even Naga Casino, which sits next to the Assembly compound, will be increasing the number of security guards on duty during the inauguration ceremony, said Mich­ael Nen, NagaCorp vice president for public affairs.

“We are neighbors with the Na­tional Assembly,” he said on Friday. “We have to help strengthen security for the event today.”

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said that some of the security concerns were overblown. He took particular exception to the locking up of parliamentarians offices on Friday because it prevented them from doing their job.

Son Chhay said that lawmakers are often locked out of their offices whenever Hun Sen comes to the Assembly.

“If there is [security tape] on our doors does that mean that the prime minister thinks we are his enemy…or a threat?”

“Why does everyone have to stop working for his security?” he added.

(Additional reporting by John Maloy)

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