Threat of General Strike in Cambodia

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by Noah Simon

The leader of the Cambodian opposition party has threatened a one-day general strike if Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling CPP party does not make concessions for opposition lawmakers after the disputed July 28th elections.

Sam Rainsy says the strike would include factory workers, civil servants, and shopkeepers. Rainsy is also calling upon friendly foreign governments and businesses to halt dealings with the “illegitimate government”.  The opposition is calling for an investigation into allegations of widespread electoral fraud and voting irregularities.

After a long campaign by the opposition party to challenge July 28th election results, Hun Sen, long-time Prime Minister of Cambodia has been sworn in for another five-year term in office.

PM Hun Sen opened the National Assembly yesterday without the presence of 55 opposition lawmakers who are boycotting their seats in parliament until the election results are reviewed.

The CNRP organized a ‘thumbprint’ petition submitted to delay the open of Parliament, however the State Opening by the King went ahead as planned.

This afternoon, Amnesty International and several other human rights groups released a public statement condemning the use of unrestrained violence on the Cambodian people.

The latest incident of violence occurred on the night of September 22nd, when police forces and a gang fired marbles with slingshots and used stun guns on journalists and civilians during a candlelight vigil. At least 10 were injured at this event, including an elderly woman who was hospitalized.

On September 15th Police haphazardly fired amongst an angry mix of protesters and commuters, leaving one commuter dead after being shot in the head. The use of police barricades and roadblocks restricted movement in the city, angering protesters and commuters.

Intense fighting broke out that night between protesters and police. A local photographer described seeing “rocks, shattered glass, and the firing of tear gas” upon arriving to the scene.

He added that police were using batons and “beating anyone they could grab”.

Sam Rainsy and the CNRP party immediately condemned the police violence after the September 15th setback.

The participation of monks has also been widespread in these demonstrations. The monks have taken part in several nonviolent actions but have attempted self-immolation as the political deadlock continues.

Since the election, Rainsy had been invited by the King to meet Hun Sen and negotiate a settlement to the election deadlock. The CPP and CNRP agreed to reform the National Election Committee for future elections, however, the results of July’s elections have still not been investigated.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) party received 68 parliamentary seats at the election while the CNRP won 55 seats.

Despite being the largest opposition to PM Hun Sen yet, the CNRP refuses to settle for the results, continuing to push for a voice as the  majority party in Cambodia.