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CNRP official detained over capital protest fears

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Tonghy Tan, who was questioned by officials after his arrest on Monday in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

CNRP official detained over capital protest fears

Heightened security surveillance ahead of the CNRP’s dissolution hearing on Thursday – aimed at preventing party supporters from entering the capital – ensnared an opposition commune councillor who was briefly detained by Kampong Chhnang police while trying to travel to Phnom Penh to meet his wife.

The CNRP’s Samrong Sen commune councillor, Yon Sopheak, was stopped by Kampong Chhnang police as he left his residence to catch a bus to Phnom Penh. Sopheak was hoping to visit his wife, who is a garment worker in the capital, said Keo Thai, head of the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s provincial executive committee.

“When he arrived at Phsar Krom [in Kampong Chhnang town] he was stopped and brought to the provincial police station at 1pm,” Thai said. “Then I went there to sign to guarantee them that he would not go to Phnom Penh until November 17.”

At a hearing scheduled for November 16, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on a request from the Ministry of Interior to dissolve the CNRP, the nation’s largest opposition party. Despite widespread criticism of the case, government officials have repeatedly insisted the party will indeed be dissolved.

Thai added that councillors were under surveillance – which is how the police were able to quickly stop him from leaving the province – and equated the situation to the paranoia of the Pol Pot-led Khmer Rouge regime.

Provincial authorities have been ordered by their national counterparts in recent weeks to prevent opposition supporters from travelling to Phnom Penh for the CNRP hearing. Kampong Chhnang Deputy Police Chief Pol Vuthy yesterday refused to answer questions as to what legal grounds Sopheak was stopped on, or how he was identified as a traveller to Phnom Penh.

In a separate case on Monday, Tonghy Tan was arrested outside the Supreme Court for trying to hand out leaflets containing anti-Hun Sen messaging, with police saying the man was attempting to create “chaos”.

“He was distributing a lot of crazy and inciting documents,” said Or Kim An, an official at the National Police secretariat. “He distributed the documents to cause chaos in society.”

He added that Tan had done the same thing outside Calmette Hospital, City Hall and the Royal Palace in early October but fled to Thailand, adding that the suspect claimed he was not affiliated with any party or NGO.

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