Vehicle Access Around Palace Blocked for Elections

Vehicle access around the Royal Palace compound has been partially blocked since Thursday and will remain so until after Sunday’s commune election, police said this week.

Sothearos Boulevard in front of the palace, a section of Street 19 at the back and Street 184 on the compound’s north side are closed, while Street 240 on the south side remains open.

The closure followed a request by the Royal Palace to the Phnom Penh Municipality, said Phorn Pen, Daun Penh district police chief.

“I do not know anything else be­sides we are standing each day at these roads for security reasons,” Phorn Pen said.

Royal Palace officials could not be reached for comment to confirm the police chief’s claim.

A popular rallying point for campaigners in the days before previous elections, the road closure will effectively prevent political parties from meeting in front of the palace.

“The streets have been closed to avoid disturbing our King [Noro­dom Sihamoni] because he is not a politician,” Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said.

“This will not affect our commune election campaign as our party has changed its policy of marching in a big event like be­fore,” he said.

Norodom Ranariddh Party spokes­man Muth Chantha said the road closure would not affect his party’s campaign, especially since Sisowath Quay along the riverfront is still open to traffic.

Chuon Chet, Chey Chumneah commune police chief, where the pa­lace is located, said visitors can still go to the palace’s main entrance on Sothearos Boulevard, but must go on foot until after Sunday’s vote.

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