Connect to share and comment

New Cambodian opposition rally keeps heat on Hun Sen

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Thousands of opposition supporters rallied in the Cambodian capital Sunday vowing to remain for several days in a renewed bid to overturn Prime Minister Hun Sen's disputed election win.

The protest, called by the Cambodia National Rescue Party, comes a day after a rare meeting between opposition chief Sam Rainsy and the strongman premier to break the political paralysis gripping the kingdom.

Around 20,000 people converged on Phnom Penh's Democracy Park on Sunday, according to an AFP reporter, the majority staying in place as dusk approached despite a prior order from authorities to disperse around nightfall.

Water cannon and tear gas were fired at an apparently unrelated group around two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the park, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.

One man appeared to be injured in the clash which occurred when the group of around 200 people tried to break through a police barricade, he added.

The CNRP was swift to distance its rally from the incident and a spokesman said it was "not involved with the demonstration".

CNRP supporters on Sunday again responded in large numbers to the call by opposition leader Sam Rainsy to reject official poll results -- over allegations voter fraud -- which saw the ruling Cambodian People's Party take 68 seats to the opposition's 55.

"Brothers, this is an important mission to rescue the nation," Rainsy said Sunday addressing demonstrators, many of whom held banners reading 'my vote, my nation' and 'where is my vote?'.

Rainsy called for a recount or new vote and stated that opposition lawmakers will not attend the opening of the parliament on September 23.

But "there will be no talks on power sharing" he warned, without the alleged election irregularities being cleared up.

Saturday's meeting between Rainsy and Hun Sen, hosted by King Norodom Sihamoni, made limited progress towards ending the stalemate but the opposition leader said he will still attend new talks on Monday with the CPP.

Anti-riot and military police were deployed at key locations in Phnom Penh on Sunday, but as dusk fell security forces had maintained a low profile at the rally site.

Ahead of the rally the government set a limit on the number of protesters at 10,000 and said it must finish by around 6pm local time (1100GMT).

But protesters remained defiant, vowing to stay in the park until their demands are met.

"Our votes were robbed," said 56-year-old Srin Chea, who travelled from southern Kandal province.

"I am angry. I want justice. I am not afraid of death."

So far the CNRP's efforts to challenge the outcome have failed and it has run out of formal options in its bid to overturn Hun Sen's victory.

Hun Sen, 61, has been in power for 28 years and has vowed to rule until he is 74.

A former Khmer Rouge cadre who defected and oversaw Cambodia's rise from the ashes of war, his government is regularly accused of ignoring human rights and suppressing political dissent.

suy/apj/lm

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130915/new-cambodian-opposition-rally-keeps-heat-hun-sen-1