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Opposition Will Go Forward With Mass Demonstration, Leader Says

PHNOM PENH - Opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Tuesday reaffirmed his party’s commitment to three days of mass demonstrations starting on Wednesday, in response to the government’s failure to address widespread irregularities in July’s national elections.

Returning from a trip abroad, where he had urged Western states not to acknowledge the current government in Phnom Penh, Sam Rainsy told reporters: “We must push for change and follow the will of the Khmer people.”

Sam Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party has refused to join with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in the formation of a new government, claiming that it lost the election through irregularities and fraud that have not been addressed.

“Our stance is the same,” Sam Rainsy said on Tuesday. “We will demand change and justice for the voters.”

Sam Rainsy had been in the United States and Europe to ask leaders there not to accept the Cambodian government, formed without the consent of 55 of 123 lawmakers, as legitimate.

The CPP in September unilaterally approved a new government, staffed ministries and appointed positions within the National Assembly, despite the opposition boycott.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the Rescue Party has a right to “make demands,” but he said the current government “is now legitimate and functioning smoothly.”

The Ministry of Interior, meanwhile, issued a statement saying it will allow a gathering of no more than 10,000 people, but not a march through the streets.