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Protests planned in New York as Hun Sen to attend the UN

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Planned protests in the US will demanding all charges against former CNRP president Kem Sokha be dropped. Heng Chivoan

Protests planned in New York as Hun Sen to attend the UN

Prime Minister Hun Sen will speak at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week. But US-based supporters of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) plan to throw eggs at his car as part of a series of protests to coincide with his visit.

Hun Sen will attend the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly and other meetings from Thursday to Sunday in New York, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

He will be accompanied by top government officials, including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Prak Sokhonn and Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi.

He will deliver a statement to the UN on “recent developments and major achievements made by the Cambodian government” as well as on various regional and international issues.

Bilateral meetings with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, and Nepalese Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, among other high-ranking political figures, are also on the agenda.

The ministry said the prime minister will also meet Cambodian communities in the US and Canada.

Moun Meng, the CNRP head in North Carolina and one of the Cambodian-Americans organising the planned rallies, told The Post on Sunday that there will be “large-scale protests” during Hun Sen’s visit to the US.

He said his group had also invited former CNRP lawmakers who now reside in the US to participate.

CNRP leaflets distributed in the US call on Cambodians and civil society organisations to participate in protests.

They demand that the international community, especially signatory countries of the 1993 Paris Peace Accords, “intervene immediately” and not recognise the result of the July 29 national elections, which they claim to be “fake”.

He said his group is still organising participants and the number of people who will take part in the demonstrations will be announced by Tuesday.

The protesters, Moun Meng said, plan to raise banners, Cambodian and American flags, speak through loudspeakers and throw eggs at Hun Sen’s convoy. He said all protests would be carried out within legal limits.

“If the [US authorities] allow it, we plan to throw eggs . . . If we see Hun Sen, we will throw eggs at him. We also plan to form a barrier to block Hun Sen’s convoy."

“We plan to meet Hun Sen, but it will depend on the law. We will follow the rules – not like [the Cambodia government]. We will follow what the law allows. We will not violate the law,” he said.

Moun Meng said protesters will demand Hun Sen allow the CNRP to be reinstated and all charges against its former president Kem Sokha be dropped.

“We do this because we are not happy with what Hun Sen did to more than half of the population in Cambodia who [support] the CNRP. He does what he wants, such as with the dissolution of the CNRP and the arrest of Kem Sokha, without proper reason,” he claimed.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan on Sunday said that the prime minister would himself hold two or three rallies, each in front of thousands of supporters.

He said it is unlikely that any protest against Hun Sen’s trip would be particularly large.

“Most Cambodian-Americans and Cambodian-Canadians would not participate in any protest because they understand what Hun Sen has achieved for the Kingdom."

“However, there are small, minor groups who will come out to protest along roads,” he said.

‘Freedom of expression’

Siphan said even if there was an interruption from “minor groups”, it would not unduly impact the prime minister’s visit, and that people have their right to express their opinions.

“These are non-civilian and minority groups who lost their battle back in Cambodia . . . There are rebel groups who lost in wars. There are also minority groups who incite the public to rebel against Samdech Hun Sen,” he said, seemingly referring to the CNRP.

“It shows that the Cambodian people [even] as part of the opposition movement against their own nation, have freedom of expression . . . I believe that most Cambodians understand their right to expression,” he said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said: “When attending any UN function, our prime minister has to ensure his credentials as the representative of the legitimate government of Cambodia are recognised at a time when some countries are questioning the legitimacy of his government.

“Perhaps, as in previous trips to countries with vocal overseas Khmers, his officials may have to work hard to show he has popular support among Cambodians in the US and Canada,” he said.

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