A Change of Guard

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Sunday 30 March 2014

Cambodian opposition marks 17th anniversary of grenade attack amid tight security

People march on 30th March 2014 to commemorate the victims of the 1997 grenade attack. ទិដ្ឋភាពនៃការដង្ហែក្បួន ពីកន្លែងប្រារព្ធខួបនៃការគប់គ្រាប់បែកដៃ ៣០ មីនា២០១៤
Xinhua | 2014-3-30 
By Agencies

The opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Sunday morning held a religious ceremony at a memorial stupa in a park, just south of the Royal Palace, in remembrance of the victims of a grenade attack 17 years ago.

Some 60 Buddhist monks were invited to chant at the ceremony, which was attended by CNRP's president Sam Rainsy and some 700 party supporters as well as family members of the victims.

The attack on an opposition rally on March 30, 1997 killed 16 people. So far, no one was arrested for the killing.

Security has been tightened on Sunday as all roads around the ceremony site have been blocked to ensure safety of the participants.

"They hold the ceremony with permission from the City Hall, so our forces have been deployed to maintain security and public order for them," Gen. Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, told Xinhua over phone.

Sam Rainsy said at the event that after the commemoration ceremony, the CNRP will hold a people's congress at the party's headquarters on the outskirts of the capital in the afternoon because the Phnom Penh Municipality did not allow the party to conduct the congress at the Freedom Park.

Sam Rainsy's announcement has ended speculations about confrontation or clashes between authorities and opposition supporters.

Kheng Tito said the CNRP can hold its people's congress at its headquarters.

"It's good that the CNRP complies with the law. This can avoid confrontation," he said.

On Sunday morning, steel barricades have been used to block roads surrounding the Freedom Park as hundreds of anti-riot police, armed with shields and batons, have been deployed inside.

Dispute between Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and Sam Rainsy's CNRP has simmered since the July election results showed that the CPP won 68 parliamentary seats against 55 seats for the CNRP.

Claiming serious ballot-rigging, the CNRP refused to accept the outcome and has boycotted parliament and conducted many protests, some of which turned violent, to demand the resignation of Hun Sen and a re-election.

Hun Sen has said that he would neither step down nor call a re- vote.

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