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PM says Water Festival still on

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Rowers prepare for a race on the Mekong River as part of Water Festival celebrations in Phnom Penh last year. Hong Menea

PM says Water Festival still on

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday insisted that this year’s Water Festival will go forward, in spite of the impacts on the Mekong River of a recent drought.

This year’s celebration will only be the second Water Festival – which can draw as many as 1 million visitors to the capital, and features traditional rowboat races – since a stampede at the event in 2010 claimed 350 lives.

“Municipal hall has to be ready; the Water Festival will be celebrated even though the water is low,” Hun Sen said yesterday.

An official of the National and International Festivals Committee, Pean Cham Roeun, said yesterday that this year’s Water Festival will be held from November 24 to 26.

According to Phnom Penh Municipal Deputy Governor Khuong Sreng, City Hall would be ready as usual to celebrate the Water Festival and maintain public order for those visiting Phnom Penh from the provinces.

“We will be well-prepared, as recommended by Samdech Techo [Hun Sen], to ensure the celebration goes smoothly and successfully, and we will pay attention to ensure the safety for people and rowers,” he said.

The festival attracted significantly fewer participants last year, with 248 boats joining the event, 423 less than in 2010.

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