PHNOM PENH —
Anti-government rallies continued for a fifth day in Phnom Penh Thursday, steadily growing in numbers as the vice president of the opposition traveled outside the capital to lead demonstrations in the provinces.
Supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party rode motor scooters through Phnom Penh, many adorned with placards that called for Prime Minister Hun Sen to step down.
“Hun Sen must go!” read one sign. “Hun Sen must step down!” read another.
Thousands of people have joined the non-stop rallies that began Sunday, angered by July’s election results and the political deadlock that has followed.
The opposition now is calling for a new election, following a loss in July’s polls that leaders say came from irregularities and fraud that cost them hundreds of thousands of votes. The Rescue Party officially won 55 of 123 National Assembly seats, but its lawmakers have refused to join the government without credible investigations into the fraud allegations.
“There must be a re-election to follow the people’s will,” Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer Thursday. “The will of the people was defrauded.”
Rescue Party Vice President Kem Sokha did not join Thursday’s rally in Phnom Penh. Sam Rainsy told supporters that Kem Sokha was traveling outside the city to gather more support in rural areas.
Tit Phanna, 58, a Cambodian-American from Los Angeles, said he had joined the rally to “restore our nation.” Deforestation and mining were major concerns, he said, blaming the administration of Hun Sen.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said Thursday that rallies aimed at overthrowing the government are “unlawful.” The government will “take action against anyone who has plans to topple the government,” he said.