The opposition has scheduled two mass demonstrations for next month following a bloody clash between garment workers and security forces last week and ahead of an ultimatum set by the Cambodia National Rescue Party for dialogue with the government, a party spokesperson has said.
Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua said the first demonstration would be held in Freedom Park on December 10 to demand an investigation into the death of 49-year-old street vendor Eng Sokhum, who was killed when police opened fire on protesters from the SL Garment factory after they charged a police line on November 12.
CNRP president Sam Rainsy, however, said yesterday that the protest – due to be held on UN Human Rights Day – would be “for all people who have suffered human rights abuses” in the country.
The second demonstration, Sochua added, would be larger, last for longer than one day and include marches through the capital’s streets in a similar vein to a mass rally held in August.
Rainsy and CNRP vice president Kem Sokha have been rallying support for the protests in Phnom Penh and Kampot since late last week, making special appeals to workers to join in the demonstrations, which they said will be held across the country.
“[The Cambodian] People’s Party knew that it lost, so it is forcing us to accept the result that [the CPP] won.… This time, [we] will hold a very big demonstration; nationwide,” Rainsy told a crowd in Kampot province’s Angkor Chey district on Sunday.
However, there appeared to be some confusion over the details of the plans yesterday, with senior CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann denying that the party had officially agreed to hold rallies in December.
“There’s no decision made yet by the standing committee,” Sovann said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said while demonstrations were permitted, they should not disrupt public order.
“If a demonstration is held to express political will or freedom of expression it does not matter. But if a demonstration is to occupy public assets and roads, that is illegal,” he said. “The royal government does not allow [anyone] to do anything as they please.”
The CNRP met CPP officials on November 5 to try to break the political deadlock that followed July’s disputed general election. The talks failed to make any headway and the CNRP issued an ultimatum to the CPP: if dialogue yields no results by the end of the year, there would be no more talks.
The chances of overcoming the impasse before this deadline seem slim, with Rainsy yesterday saying there would be no more talks unless the CPP agrees to a full investigation of election irregularities.
An independent investigation has been the cornerstone of opposition demands since the immediate aftermath of the July 28 poll.
“We insist on an investigation. So long as there’s no proper inquiry [there will be no talks]. It depends on the attitude of the CPP,” Rainsy said.