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‘We are going ahead’: CNRP

Thousands of CNRP supporters fill Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park during a three-day demonstration in the capital last month
Thousands of CNRP supporters fill Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park during a three-day demonstration in the capital last month. Pha Lina

‘We are going ahead’: CNRP

Whether the opposition’s upcoming three-day demonstration will be allowed to go ahead as planned remained in limbo as of yesterday evening, with City Hall leaving the decision up to the Ministry of Interior after the parties held a fruitless meeting.

The “sticking points”, according to CNRP public affairs head Mu Sochua, are the number of demonstrators and whether they will be able to march and stay at Freedom Park overnight.

“These three points will now go back to the Ministry of Interior for them to decide. [But] no matter what they decide, we are going ahead anyway,” Sochua said.

The party is expecting tens of thousands to march to the local UN human rights office to deliver a petition on Wednesday.

Subsequent marches to embassies representing signatories to the 1991 Paris Peace Accords are planned for Thursday and Friday.

Phnom Penh city officials, local districts, police and military police held three-hour talks with the opposition yesterday, City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said.

He added that authorities were not able to approve the demonstration because the CNRP asked permission for between 20,000 and 40,000 people to gather and march.

“City Hall has allowed only 10,000 for the rally at Freedom Park, but we will not allow them to march or stay overnight,” Dimanche said.

“We have already sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior and [it] will make the final decision about marching and staying overnight.”

National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith and Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment.

Sochua was forthright in her response as to whether problems could arise if the party disobeyed authorities.

“Why should we worry about a crackdown? We are exercising our rights to assembly and expression of speech.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KEVIN PONNIAH

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