Some 270,000 supporters of competing political parties will participate in rallies in Phnom Penh on Friday when campaigning ends – the largest such gathering in the Kingdom’s history.
It will be the final push as the 20 parties taking part in the July 29 national elections pitch for votes.
A statement from Phnom Penh City Hall said around 250,000 supporters will gather at Koh Pich Centre, while an estimated 20,000 from other parties are expected at Freedom Park in the city centre.
However, the statement conflicts with that of Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Khuong Sreng, who said only the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), backed by 200,000 supporters and led by its president and caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen, will be allowed at Koh Pich Centre.
“At Koh Pich, only [the CPP] will be allowed. We cannot allow two parties to face each other because it is hard to maintain security.
“So they will gather at different places and use different routes,” he said.
Sreng said the rallies would pass through Kampuchea Krom Boulevard, Mony Reth Boulevard, Sothearos Boulevard, Mao Tse Toung Boulevard, Preah Monivong Boulevard, Sihanouk Boulevard, Sisowath Quay, National Roads 5, 6, 1 and 2, Phnom Penh-Hanoi Street, Northbridge Street, Choam Chao Street, and Streets 271 and 70.
Local authorities are preparing to maintain order and security, and prevent traffic chaos when the final rally is in progress, he said.
“The Phnom Penh City administration will temporarily suspend traffic flow at some places where the rally will take place and divert the traffic flow.
“Therefore we urge the public to avoid the route of the rallies. They should not pass through the streets where the parties are holding the rallies, which start from 6am until they finish,” Sreng said.
He declined to reveal the number of security personnel that will be deployed for traffic control and to maintain security.
He said: “We cannot reveal the figures of our [security] forces to the media as it is confidential.
“We can only say that during the rallies we will make sure participants and residents in Phnom Penh do not face any problems.
“The Phnom Penh administration will prepare their forces to ensure the safety of all participants during the July 27 rallies.
The CPP will have 200,000 participants and the rest will be from the Beehive Party, headed by Mam Sonando, and other parties,” he said.
Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Meth Means Pheakday estimated that some 2,000 security guards will be involved during rallies, and on polling day itself 5,000 personnel will be deployed to maintain security.
“The Phnom Penh authorities are ready to provide security and manage traffic jams,” he said.
Meanwhile, CPP spokesperson Sok Eysan said he is unsure of the number of supporters who will turn up for the rallies.
“I cannot speculate on the figure, but Samdech Hun Sen, the party president, announced publicly that he would take part in the rally."
So if Samdech president [Hun Sen] attends as leader, I think tens of thousands of CPP supporters will also attend,” he said.