Opposition leaders yesterday announced plans to hold a thousands-strong “people’s congress” in the capital’s Freedom Park on Sunday, despite a ban on gatherings at the site.
Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy and vice-president Kem Sokha, following their return from overseas trips to Australia, New Zealand and the US, said they would bring 5,000 supporters to the park.
“It is necessary to meet with citizens, and I would like to stress to the [Cambodian] People’s Party that our gathering [on Sunday] is not a demonstration,” Rainsy said. “There will be no demonstration or toppling of anything. [The CPP] cannot use [this cause] as a pretext to accuse us and not allow us to [hold public meetings].”
Rainsy added that the meetings would provide ideas for the CNRP ahead of renewed negotiations with the ruling party, which the opposition hopes will involve the most senior members of the government.
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, however, labelled the announcement a call for an illegal demonstration, and urged the CNRP to take its seats in parliament, saying: “His ‘congress’ is just words, but the reality is a demonstration. We already know this. So I would like [Rainsy] to release his 55 fighting cocks, and the CPP’s 68 fighting cocks will be waiting in the National Assembly.”
Rainsy added that a key CNRP demand for reform of the National Election Committee had been dismissed at negotiations, and called on the CPP to put forward its counter-proposal.
“If they do not agree, please propose another idea to guarantee independence of the NEC. What [ideas] does [the CPP] have? Come on,” he said.
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