Opposition lawmakers yesterday reached an agreement with authorities on the number of protesters allowed to march to foreign embassies and the United Nations to deliver petitions about election irregularities as part of a mass rally that begins today.
Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Mao Monyvan, who was present during the negotiations, said City Hall has given the go-ahead for 1,000 protesters to leave the park, a much higher figure than was given in an Interior Ministry statement released on Monday night.
Long Dimanche, Phnom Penh Municipality spokesman, confirmed that 1,000 protesters would be allowed to march to the embassies, suggesting a relaxation of restrictions on the opposition.
But Monyvan added that the party could not prevent more than 10,000 people – the limit set by the Interior Ministry – from showing up at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park today.
“It is up to the people’s will.… The party expects 20,000 to 40,000 [protesters], because we cannot limit the numbers. We are not issuing invitations, we called for people from every province and city [to attend],” Monyvan said.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann told the Post yesterday evening that the party would attempt to reach seven embassies during the march planned for today.
In a statement yesterday, the CNRP called on demonstrators to use non-violent methods if they were met with violence and urged security forces to exercise restraint.
At Phnom Penh International Airport, opposition leader Sam Rainsy returned from his tour of Europe and the US yesterday, during which he said he had drummed up support for his party’s call for an investigation into July’s election.
“Now, friendly countries and other organisations … understand our stance demanding an investigation over the election, because they know that there are plenty of irregularities affecting the results,” Rainsy said.
But senior Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap seemed less impressed, playing down the level of support Rainsy mustered abroad.
“What Sam Rainsy alleged is just an attempt to hide his shame [and] to try to increase his popularity,” Yeap said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DANIEL PYE