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Watchdog to proceed with rally

THE Cambodia Watchdog Council will push ahead with plans for a nationalist rally on Thursday, despite having not received permission from the relevant authorities, its president said yesterday.

Last month, CWC president Rong Chhun requested permission to hold a rally at Wat Botum in order to express anger at Thailand’s “invasion” of territory near Preah Vihear temple two years ago.

At a municipal meeting yesterday, Koeut Chhe, deputy chief of the municipal cabinet, said City Hall was waiting for word from the Ministry of Interior on whether the rally could go ahead.

“For the request to organise a ceremony in front of the old National Assembly building, Phnom Penh municipality has to seek advice from the Ministry of Interior first,” he said, according to minutes of the meeting. “So Rong Chhun has to wait for the decision to be made by the Interior Ministry.”

Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said officials there would consider information provided by City Hall before making a decision about the rally, but added that the procession did not seem productive.

“The main problem is that Rong Chhun’s procession will not make Thai soldiers retreat from the Preah Vihear temple area,” he said.

“It is the negotiations and boldness of our military and police forces that are the real protector of our territorial integrity.”

On July 15, 2008, Thailand sent troops to disputed border areas close to Preah Vihear temple after UNESCO accepted Cambodia’s application to have it listed as a World Heritage site.

Rong Chhun said yesterday that his event would be held regardless of whether the CWC is granted permission.

“We will gather peacefully, not for the purpose of opposing or criticising the government, but just to express ideas for the sake of protecting our territorial integrity against the Thai invasion,” he said.

He said the rally would begin in front of Wat Botum at 7:30am and then head to the Independence Monument, where a garland would be laid.

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