This last week has been a controversial and unstable one for Phnom Penh. A three day demonstration organised by the CNRP plus increased police and military presence in the capital city culminated in one man dying, many injured and emergency discussions between the opposition leader (Sam Rainsey), the prime minister (Hun Sen) and the King to come to a peaceful agreement.
This blog post summarises really well what went on easier than I could so check it out for more info on what went down and was reported via social media, noting that mainstream media is controlled by the government so there was a distinct lack of information circulated using that method.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) I was in Vietnam on a work junket at the time of the protests, but Mick was still here in Phnom Penh. Below is a pic stolen from twitter which was taken at one end of our street. Apparently the market across the road was quieter than normal, but otherwise there wasn’t much in the way of drama.
Around the corner from our house was a different story. We live quite close to the Independence Monument which was in lockdown mode, probably due to it being the site of (one of) Hun Sen’s houses. The pic below shows what was going on there at the time. Apparently a few hundred military police were trucked into the area and marched onto the Royal Palace which was where the first of the clashes was.
The following day after the clashes, things cooled down with discussions between the opposition and ruling party going on for over 5 hours. The parties agreed to have non-violent protests and to not use intimidation tactics over the opposition. The razor-wire barriers were taken away, the military police were taken home and the protesters left the official site of their demonstration. But the tension is still around. And there are still military police around the city, standing on street corners and watching people go by. There is also razor wire barriers in some areas still, like the end of our street so one does have to wonder if things could break down again.
The parliament is due to sit for the first time on Monday and the opposition party has vowed to not participate in this sitting. They continue to call for an independent investigation into the election issues and the ruling party continue to reject these calls. I guess all that remains to do is to cross fingers and toes there is no more violence but also pray for a fair and honest government into the future.
We are being continually updated and informed about the situation through twitter mostly (mainstream media sucks here) and through our in country support teams. We obviously are avoiding the areas that things have been tense and are keeping low to the ground, not that there is any immediate risk to us. At least we have cold beer and kittens to keep us company!