Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cambodia opposition chief: Planned protest not to topple gov't

Xinhua | 2013-8-29
By Agencies

Cambodia's long-time opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Thursday that a mass protest, planned on Sept. 7, has no intention to overthrow the current government of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen, but to demand for the poll irregularity probe committee.

"The massive nonviolent protest is not aiming to topple the government at all, but to demand for the establishment of an independent committee to look into alleged poll irregularities," Sam Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), said in a press conference at the party's headquarters.

He said it was unclear if the party would hold a mass protest only in Phnom Penh City, or throughout the country.

Rainsy called for the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) to resume negotiations towards the establishment of a special committee for poll irregularity investigation.

"If talks between the two parties towards the formation of an independent poll probe committee have been resumed, we will cancel our protest plan," he said.

In a letter to Sam Rainsy on Thursday, Pa Socheatvong, governor of Phnom Penh City, said that any protest must comply with the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations and the principle in maintaining public order as stated by laws.

"The Phnom Penh Municipality hopes that Mr. President of the CNRP will have high spirit and real will to cooperate with authorities to maintain social stability and peace, which are the genuine aspirations of the Cambodian people," he said in a letter.

The country held a general election on July 28. Initial election results showed that the ruling CPP of Prime Minister Hun Sen won the election with 68 of the 123 parliamentary seats, while the CNRP of Sam Rainsy got the remaining 55 seats.

But the CNRP rejected the results, saying that it should win 63 seats, with the CPP getting the remaining 60 seats if alleged poll irregularities were fairly resolved.

Tep Nytha, secretary general of the National Election Committee, said there was no need to discuss the formation of any independent committee since the initial election results had been already released and the final results would be issued on Sept. 8.

The opposition party has repeatedly threatened to call mass protests against the poll results.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng wrote a letter to Sam Rainsy on Aug. 8, saying that peaceful demonstrations are the rights of people, but protesters and their leaders must comply with the regulations of the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations.

"In case that a protest has led to violence, destruction to national security, and damage to public or private properties, the protest leaders and offenders must take full responsibilities in front of the law for consequences arising from the protest," he warned.

Soldiers, police and military police with armored vehicles have been deployed around Phnom Penh City since early this month after the opposition's protest warning.

Under the country's constitution, a new parliament will be inaugurated no later than 60 days after the election.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Aug. 2 that a new parliament and a new government would be established as scheduled despite the opposition's boycott.

According to the constitution, he said, a new government would be formed by a 50 percent plus one majority, or 63 lawmakers, in the new parliament.

Hun Sen, 61, who has been in power for 28 years, will extend his power for further five years through the election victory.

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