WASHINGTON DC —
Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered Phnom Penh authorities to grant permission to both sides of demonstrations to occupy Freedom Park in the capital.
The two sides are to be separated, but both are to be granted permission to demonstrate, Hun Sen said in a public speech.
“One side is for pro demonstrations, and the other for anti demonstrations,” he said.
“You won’t arbitrarily do this alone anymore,” he added, referring to the opposition.
Anti-government rallies have mounted since the July elections, which the opposition says was marred with fraud.
Supporters of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party have started showing up at these gatherings to counter opposition supporters.
Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, said Wednesday its supporters are focused on peaceful negotiations, not demonstrations. But he said demonstrations should not be “disturbed” when they are held.
“Demonstrating is a right of the people, but any demonstrations that disturb others, to attack others, to create violence…that is illegal,” he said. “If [Hun Sen] really has good intentions about demonstrations, he should not send pro-CPP forces, CPP members and CPP protesters to attack CNRP protesters.”
Am Sam Ath, monitoring supervisor for the rights group Licadho, urged demonstrators to be peaceful and to protect each other. Previous pro-opposition demonstrations have been disrupted in Phnom Penh and the provinces, he said.
“Freedom of assembly should be peaceful,” he said. “It should not happen because of incitement, hiring or pay.”