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Demonstrations Renew in Capital as Campaigning Continues

The demonstration blocked a major Phnom Penh boulevard for about 20 minutes, but no violence was reported.

Two demonstrations—one of factory workers and one of displaced city residents—were held on Monday, as the different groups sought to use the June 3 commune elections as another chance to have their grievances heard.

Angry residents of the Boeung Kak lake and Borei Keila development projects said they have yet to see an acceptable solution to the forced evictions that have become hallmarks of development projects in the two Phnom Penh neighborhoods.

“We always voted for the Cambodian People’s Party, but we suffered with no resolution,” said demonstrator Yom Bopha.

Representatives said they were then invited to meet with Ly Saveth, head of administration for City Hall, where they were asked to vote for the CPP.

Ly Saveth could not be reached for comment. However, Tep Nitha, secretary-general of the National Election Committee, said it is not legal for government authorities to put conditions, such as voting for a party, on citizens.

Meanwhile, nearly 1,000 garment workers led by the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union held a peaceful demonstration in Phnom Penh, demanding better salaries and working conditions.

The demonstration blocked a major Phnom Penh boulevard for about 20 minutes, but no violence was reported. Officials said they had not deployed riot police, but that police were on the scene to help resume the flow of traffic.

Workers of the SL Garment Factory in Stung Meanchey district said they want supplements to their income for housing, transportation and meals, on top of their minimum wage salaries.

Chip Eng, administrative director for the factory, said management could not provide so much in supplemental income. Earlier offers were refused by the union, he said, adding that if workers did not return to their jobs after 48 hours, they would be fired.

Ath Thun, president of the Workers’ Democratic Union, said the demonstration will continue until worker demands are met.