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Interior Ministry Grants First Protest Permission in Years


Cambodian Ministry of the Interior on Friday granted pro-government protesters permission to hold peaceful protest against the opposition party president Sam Rainsy when he returns to Cambodia later this month.

The SRP leader has spent over seven months in exile in Europe after the Cambodian national assembly voted in early February to strip his parliamentary immunity along with two of his colleagues' followed libel lawsuits against them.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the permission to hold the protest was granted because the ministry agrees with Phnom Penh city hall that the organizers are reputable scholars who can be trusted to keep public order.

The lead organizer of the protest Seng Phally said so far there are over 10,000 people who plan to join the protests against opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

Seng Phally said neither he nor the participants are under any political party's pressure to carry out the peaceful protests.

He said they want to protest against Sam Rainsy because they are upset he has created political instability in Cambodia.

Hundreds of Anti-Sam Rainsy signs and banners are seen throughout Phnom Penh on Friday on the walls and the gates of various schools. Some calls Sam Rainsy a traitor, others say he's behind the effort to set up an illegal army.

Not everyone agrees with the anti-Rainsy messages. Many passersby said they disagree with the attack on the opposition party leader. They say Sam Rainsy is a great democrat and don't understand why people calls him a traitor.

New US ambassador to Cambodia Joseph A. Moussomeli said people should be able to express "their views on things." The important thing, he said, is that people should do it peacefully.

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