Schools, Universities to Close as City Prepares to Host Leaders

Some universities and schools in Phnom Penh will be closed for six days starting next week to manage traffic issues and any potential security problems that arise during the Asean and East Asia summits, Prime Minister Hun Sen said.

Mr. Hun Sen was speaking at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh as armed forces were readying for potential security risks and demonstrations that may arise during the high-level meetings.

“The minister of education requested that a number of schools along the boulevards where delegates will travel are closed, so I agree to close them from the 16th to the 21st [of November],” Mr. Hun Sen said.

Places of education would be closed to ease the way for delegates from powerful countries, he said, adding that they included representatives of “the world’s number one, two and three largest economies.”

U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have all been announced as attending the series of meetings, which begin next Thursday.

Mr. Hun Sen asked students to understand the reasons for the closures, and also appealed for people to show “good dignity” during Cambodia’s time in the global spotlight.

A total of 13 public and private schools or universities, are set to be closed, according to Chea Cheat, chief of the municipal education department.

“It is very important to close for a few days in order to improve security, public order and especially to keep traffic orderly and to reduce traffic jams,” Mr. Cheat said.

Also in preparation for the meetings, police and military police carried out an exercise in Phnom Penh last week.

Colonel Kheng Tito, National Military Police spokesman, said that the exercise involved a practice run of escorting a cavalcade from Phnom Penh International Airport into the center of the city.

“We have prepared the armed forces in protecting delegates from the airport to hotels where they will stay,” he said.

“We have reserve army forces to prevent demonstrations, strikes, explosions…and terrorism that could happen during the Asean Summit,” Col. Tito said.

Col. Tito—as well as Phnom Penh municipal police chief Chuon Sovann and deputy municipal Military Police Commander Pong Savrith—declined to say how many armed officials would be on the streets of Phnom Penh for the summits.

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