Cambodia warns foreigners to stay away from poll protests

September 1, 2013 10:19 am
Sam Rainsy (C), leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party on a street in Phnom Penh on August 16, 2013/AFP
Sam Rainsy (C), leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party on a street in Phnom Penh on August 16, 2013/AFP

, PHNOM PENH, Sep 1 – The Cambodian government on Sunday warned foreigners to stay away from opposition protests against a hotly disputed election as thousands of riot police practised crowd control in the capital.

Authorities and security forces would “avoid potential clashes at all costs” said the government in a statement released ahead of expected September 7 mass opposition protests against the poll results.

“All foreigners living in the Kingdom of Cambodia should keep a reasonable distance from all protests related to the election,” the statement said.

Thousands of Cambodian police officers, armed with batons and shields, were seen learning protest control tactics early Sunday in a park in Phnom Penh.

Security forces were deployed around the capital in the aftermath of the July 28 poll, in a move the opposition has decried as intimidation.

Preliminary official results for the July 28 poll, released in August, saw incumbent strongman Hun Sen’s long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) retain power.

But the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) has rejected the tally, demanding an independent probe into its claims that the election was tarnished by massive vote-rigging.

The final results are expected to be announced by September 8.

The government statement called on Cambodians to remain calm and urged those joining the protest “not to violate or infringe the rights, freedom and dignity of other people”.

The opposition also issued a statement Sunday telling protesters not to carry knives, axes, rocks or sticks to the demonstration, adding that it would hold two rehearsals ahead of the actual demonstration.

The National Election Committee (NEC) has said Hun Sen’s CPP had won the popular vote, taking 3.2 million votes to the opposition’s 2.9 million although it is yet to reveal the share of parliamentary seats.

The Constitutional Council, the country’s top arbiter, is currently resolving complaints from the opposition.

Hun Sen who has been in power for 28 years has vowed to establish a government under his leadership despite the opposition’s allegations.

The premier, 61, a former Khmer Rouge cadre who defected from the murderous regime, has vowed to rule until he is 74.


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