Phnom Penh authorities refuse to permit opposition rally

Phnom Penh authorities on January 4 refused to give permission for the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) to hold daily demonstrations and marching.
In a letter to CNRP President Sam Rainsy, Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong said the decision aims to ensure security and order in the city. He said demonstrations during the past several days have turned violent, claiming lives and causing severe destruction to public and private properties, thus seriously affecting social security, safety and public order.

Following the authorities’ decision, public security forces dispersed demonstrators at the Freedom Park and remove all their possessions, including tents, at the site.

Earlier on Jan. 3, Phnom Penh authorities and representatives from six trade unions and the Office of United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNOHCHR) in Cambodia met after closed doors on the on-going protests of garment and shoe workers.

The spokesperson of Phnom Penh administration, Long Dimanche said the meeting discussed measures to ease the tension.

UNOHCHR representative Wan-Hea Lee urged related sides to try and seek a solution to limit risk of violence, adding that the meeting was just an initial step with no solution being tabled for discussion.

Meanwhile, the trade unions called for the release of protestors arrested on January 2 and an end of the use of armed forces against the demonstrators.

In another related development, several independent political analysts in Cambodia sent a letter to King Norodom Sihamoni, begging him to invite leaders of the ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) and the CNRP to the negotiation table to end the instability in the country.

Clashes between the armed forces and protesting workers on January 3 left at least four dead and dozens injured. The workers have been demanding doubling the minimum wage from the current 80 USD to 160 USD.

The same day, the United Nations called on all sides in Cambodia to exercise restraint.-VNA

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