Cambodian anti-riot police conduct exercise in preparation for future protests

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-3-7 9:38:23

The Phnom Penh Municipal Police held a special training at the capital's Olympic Stadium on Thursday afternoon in preparation for any future demonstrations.

More than 2,000 policemen, armed with shields and batons, joined the half-day training, Gen. Chuon Sovann, chief of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police, said.

"It is usual for armed forces to get training in order to strengthen their abilities in maintaining security, safety and public order for the city," he told reporters at the event.

He said the training had no aim to threaten the opposition or its aligned trade unions that have planned to hold rallies, but it aimed to protect safety and public order if any violence occurred during protests.

"The security forces will protect demonstrators if their demonstrations get permission from the government or the interior ministry," he said. "But if demonstrations are illegal, protest leaders must be responsible for any incidents."

The exercise came after 18 opposition-aligned trade unions and associations announced to hold a public forum at the capital's Freedom Park on Saturday, an event that will coincide with International Women's Day, even though the City Hall refused to give them permission.

"Because our public forum on Saturday is not allowed by the City Hall and we still go ahead with the forum schedule, I think we cannot avoid having a clash with the authorities," Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said Thursday.

Many protests have been staged by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and its aligned trade unions since a disputed election in July last year that handed victory to Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party.

Prime Minister Hun Sen reiterated Tuesday that the government would no longer tolerate illegal strikes or demonstrations led by the opposition and its aligned trade unions.

"The Cambodian government would like to reaffirm that the implementation of rights and freedom in demanding must be held in compliance with laws. Any activities that violate the laws will no longer be tolerated," he said.

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