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CNRP Sorely Needs to Reconnect Hence Calls for People’s Congress

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City Hall should allow breathing space for peaceful rallies/congregations

PHNOM PENH, March 28: (Khmer Times) :  The CNRP sorely needs to reconnect with supporters with whom party leaders have  rarely been  having an open dialogue ever since January. 
As such, the CNRP’s plans to hold a rally dubbed the “Peoples Congress” said  Astrid Noren-Nilsson, a political analyst.
The CNRP, in trying to emulate the Thai protestors , are using them as an inspiration” though the Thai protests has not brought the desires results.
“At this point this model quite naturally intersects with the CNRP’s urgent need to reestablish dialogue with its supporters, which for the CNRP is a critical requirement. 
At this point, it is vital for the CNRP to reassure supporters that the party is still able to voice their demands. If the party is not allowed to have a dialogue with its supporters, discontent is likely to simmer rather than to be forgotten, and will potentially be more disruptive as there is no one to steer it,” Astrid pointed out.
Astrid made these comments in conjunction with Tuesday’s announcement by Rainsy that he will hold a rally on 30th March.
Though the rally has not been given permission, CNRP has declared that they defy the ban and carry out its People’s Congress as  planned.  
The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) will not be allowed to hold the People’s Congress at the Freedom Park on March 30, but is granted permission to hold grenade attack anniversary, said the city hall  official. 
However, CNRP said they would hold the congress, ignoring the government’s ban.
The CNRP, however, announced its stance to hold the rally despite ban by authority.
The People’s Congress aims to gather opinions of its supporters on negotiation with the ruling Cambodian Peoples Party.
After the meeting yesterday between Phnom Penh City Hall officials and CNRP representatives, Long Dimanche, spokesman for Phnom Penh City Hall, said : “The Phnom Penh authorities could not allow the opposition to hold the People’s Congress at the Freedom Park on March 30 because the cases of the recent violent clashes on January 2-3 are being investigated by the court’s’. 
“Investigation is just an excuse used to ban and to crack down on the freedom of assembly at the Freedom Park,” said Mu Sochua, Director General of CNRP’s Public Relations.
“If we want to protect the democracy, let make it open, and don’t use the Freedom Park as hostage,” she said. 
She added that the protest, freedom of speech and People’s Congress are protected by the constitution. 
Thus, “ the People’s Congress on March 30 at the Freedom Park will be held as scheduled.” 
Astrid, in commenting on the CNRP’s stance said that holding a people’s congress is equally an attempt by the CNRP to again carve out a public space for itself. 
After opposition activities were brought to a halt ever since January, a people’s congress is intended as a first step towards normalizing the situation and resuming activity in terms of its strategy.
However as to how this people’s congress will play out and whether it could be contained in the vicinity of the Freedom Park  and boil over into a march or quickly turn into a demonstration is hard to ascertain as the authorities have in the past disrupted such attempts with force.

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