Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRP rallies 10,000 in final push

CNRP rallies 10,000 in final push

CNRP's Long March
Thousands of CNRP supporters rally through the streets of the capital on Friday as rain clouds gather overhead. Kevin Ponniah

CNRP rallies 10,000 in final push

The Cambodia National Rescue Party’s campaign for Sunday’s sub-national councilor election ended today with an energetic afternoon rally through the streets of Phnom Penh that drew up to 10,000 supporters as police stood by.

Authorities stuck true to their word that they would allow a peaceful march to go off unhindered, but large numbers of security forces were positioned at Wat Botum park, riverside and Freedom Park in anticipation of any incident.

One moment of tension came as the crowd – mostly on motorbikes and tuk-tuks – passed by Wat Phnom, a mere hundred metres from droves of police deployed to block access to Freedom Park and armed with gas canisters, batons and shields.

CNRP leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha briefly came face to face with barricades blocking the way towards Freedom Park, which their supporters began to move away, putting them on what appeared to be a direct collision course with police, until they quickly turned away down a side street.

Though some vociferous opposition supporters tried to further antagonise security forces and move closer to police lines, party officials managed to keep the crowd flowing away from the area.

Today’s march lasted more than three hours and choked traffic in the centre of town as it proceeded down the length of Monivong Boulevard after starting at the CNRP’s Meanchey district headquarters at about 3:30pm.

During the rally, military police spokesman Kheng Tito told the Post via text message that authorities were letting opposition supporters “go as they want” as long as they weren’t violent.

“We just care [about] public security and order for them all,” he said.

Sunday’s poll – campaigning for which officially draws to a close today – will see 11,000 or so sitting commune councilors cast ballots for district, municipal and provincial councilors – almost certainly upon party lines.

But the CNRP has tried to use the two-week long campaign period to show that it still has widespread support and momentum almost six months since its post-election mass demonstrations hit a peak in late December prior to a government crackdown.

As part of the election campaign, the CNRP has also attempted to bolster its support at the grassroots level by holding rallies across the country – a move they have claimed will also work to draw Cambodian People’s Party commune councilors to their side.

“We get more support. The people really need change for the better. The more brutal suppression [there is], the more people stand up,” party spokesman Yim Sovann said following today’s march.

The CPP, in contrast, have been absent from the streets over the past two weeks and are instead said to be targeting their commune councilors directly, to ensure they do not cross party lines on Sunday, though the party has said publicly it has no fears of that.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hundreds of children in hospital with dengue

    A serious dengue fever epidemic is affecting Cambodia, with nearly 600 children hospitalised in the five Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals on Monday alone, a statement posted on the Kantha Bopha Foundation’s official Facebook page said on Wednesday. Because Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals provide

  • Sihanoukville building collapse death toll rises to 19

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on Sunday that the government will act against those responsible for the collapse of a seven-storey building in Sihanoukville on Saturday, which resulted in 19 dead and 24 injured as of Sunday evening. Sar Kheng said three Chinese nationals and one

  • Gov’t to probe Chinese exports to US via Sihanoukville

    The government is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are using Chinese-owned special economic zones in Cambodia to export goods to the US and avoid tariffs, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay. The move comes after US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said the US had

  • Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

    Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said on Thursday that having sanctions and external pressure placed on Cambodia was not worse than life under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, was speaking to military and ruling party officials