The National Assembly on Wednesday passed a controversial law on demonstrations that limits the number of people allowed to gather and gives wide authority for the government to ban a protest altogether.
The law passed with a vote of 76 to 25, with voting split between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, in favor, and the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties against.
The opposition parties voiced strong criticism of the section of the law that limits demonstrations to 200 people.
“They don’t want large-scale demonstrations in Cambodia because the government fears people power,” opposition leader Sam Rainsy told reporters outside the National Assembly after the session. “The Cambodian government today thinks about destroying critics and [strengthening its] power.”
The new law will oppress freedom of speech and serves policies of the current administration, he said.
Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, said the government can now use the pretexts of national security and public order to bar demonstrations.
Nuth Sa An, secretary of state for the Ministry of Interior, told the Assembly the law was crucial to prevent unrest and act in the interest of the people.